Friday, April 25, 2014

Celebrating the Month of the Military Child and How Our Children Serve


My wife, Sissy Cutchen, wrote this blog in honor of "The Month of the Military Child."  I'm sure it will speak to many of you and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Regards, Clutch

When my husband and I attended a Returning Warrior Weekend the feedback included this comment, “Why didn’t you let your wife speak?” Consequently I am honored and touched to be his guest blogger. I am especially pleased to blog during the Month of the Military Child, as I consider the issues surrounding military children one of my greatest concerns and my success as a military mom my crowning achievement.

Very early in my life as a Navy spouse, at every dining out I would say, “Bryan, ask Mr. Vice if I can make a toast.” My toast would always be the same, “To our children who serve without a choice and without a voice!” In those days, I would sometimes be approached by an officer who took exception to what I said. They would want to point out my children were “not serving.”

In 2005-2007 Peter Pace was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, I wrote him about our children’s service. He wrote me back, and for the first time, I actually found someone who agreed with my opinion. He also was one of the first senior military officers to express awareness that military children also serve.

While 2007 was only 7 years ago; the idea we recognize our children’s service is a new one. We have come a long way since the culture of military life portrayed in movies like “The Great Santini.” A time when many military children lived in a world of “suck it up” and “attention on deck.”  Telling our children, “Thank you for your service” is a progressive change in culture. I propose that we can do even better than a “thank you.” For many children I don’t think “Thank you for your service” is meaningful. It doesn’t change how they feel about themselves. It doesn’t make them feel rewarded. They move into too many new houses, they eat lunch alone at too many new schools, and they say good-bye to too many good friends for just a “thank you.” In actuality, their sacrifices are supporting a career that is someone else’s goal.  However, that career is inspired by those very children. It is inspired to keep them safe, to provide a strong nation, and a bright future. 

So, this is what worked for our family. Every morning I told my children, “At least you can know you are serving your country.” And we didn’t just acknowledge their sacrifice; we reminded them, their service inspired us to serve. In many different ways we let them know they played a role. When my husband got a medal, sometimes he would give the kids a medal too. In these small ways our children were moved to feel a spirit of service. 

So, I am advocating for a progression in our awareness and expression of our military children’s experience. I am advocating for the message of “Thank You for your service” to evolve. Yes, I want us to be thankful, but I want us to start telling the world “Our military children inspire our service” and to start telling our children “You inspire me to serve my country.” I for one would rather be told I inspired something, than to be thanked. A young person who can inspire someone, and consequently, can be inspired, is on their way to being an awesome citizen.

Just a blog thought from the Admiral’s other half, and the mother of Ensign Max Cutchen and Petty Officer Annie Cutchen.

-Sissy Cutchen Navy wife, Navy Mom, Navy sister

1 comment:

  1. What an awesome concept. I know my children and grandchildren sure have served a lot over the past 30 years.

    Thanks for sharing this point.