A Family Affected

Many students have family in the military and their families go under a lot of stress.

Sage P.

Many students have family in the military and their families go under a lot of stress.

Shreya P. and Maddie S.

Each day, 44% of children across the country long for a parent to return home. Though some understand the difficulties a service member may face, few seem to understand how this affects their families.

Seventh-grader Brynlee S. recently shared her story with the Howl. Her 39-year-old father has been in the Air Force for 20 years, having made a commitment after his senior year of high school. He has been deployed three times, two of which were during Brynlee’s life.

While Brynlee is proud of her dad for protecting our country, she can’t help but feel disappointed whenever he leaves. Upon enlisting in the Air Force, airmen know they’ll miss some meaningful family moments. Birthdays, holidays, and graduations come and go through email attachments and social media. This leaves a hole in the family.

“When he was deployed for a training in Texas, he missed my eleventh birthday,” Brynlee said. “This made me feel upset because I love having my family there, and they are so important to me.”

One less parent also means more responsibilities for older brothers and sisters.

“My dad is going to be deployed again in Germany from April to October. I’ll have to pitch in extra and help with my siblings because my mom sees me as a second mom,” Brynlee said.

Brynlee has an older brother and two younger siblings, including a 9-month-old sister who needs constant care. She recognizes that her life would be significantly different if her mother were deployed instead. She acknowledges the importance of her mom’s role in her younger siblings’ lives. “My mom means so much to our family because she tends to everyone’s needs, takes us everywhere, and loves us unconditionally.”

In contrast, Brynlee’s dad also plays a vital role. “My dad has this job, so he is financially supporting our family, while my mom takes care of the family.”

While home, Brynlee’s father makes sure to prioritize his family. He and Brynlee connect through common interests like sports. “He takes me to hockey games,” she said. “I love this time because it’s something we can do one on one, and I appreciate getting to connect in real life.”

Whenever he is deployed, Brynlee’s dad makes an effort to keep in touch with his family. Being separated from loved ones can make a service member feel worried and lonely. However, the ability to FaceTime provides connection and an emotional boost for everyone. 

Having a parent that is overseas can lead to a sense of discouragement. In order to tend to this fear, children are able to call or text their parents. “I remember when my dad was [last] deployed, I would text him every day just to check in on him,” Brynlee said.

Brynlee loves seeing his face every chance she gets. Talking to him directly makes her feel that he is not so far away. “It reminds me that he is still there each day even though he is not with me.” 

Brynlee’s father is scheduled to leave for Ramstein Air Base in the spring. 

“Having [my dad] leave is extremely hard for me, but I know that he’ll be alright and I’ll be able to talk to him every now and again,” Brynlee said. “When he’s gone, I can hardly wait for him to return home because I love spending quality time with my father and it makes me happy to be around him.”