Ten years of sustained conflict in places far from our home front make it easy for us to forget or at least compartmentalize the trauma our nation continues to endure.  However, there is a reality that is rarely seen, a reality that hits close to thousands of kids every minute of every hour of every day, month, and year.  Over the last 9 years I have dedicated my life to understanding, loving, and living amongst this mysterious segment of our population.

The U.S. Military and its allies have been fighting an unrelenting battle for the last decade and so have the military families that send their loved one off to war.  True, the face of war, especially the war we are currently fighting has changed throughout the generations and even though the internet has dramatically decreased the size of our world, war is still hard on families.
A couple years ago, I sat in my car talking with one 17 year old boy that I had been mentoring.  His dad was 2 years from a retirement with the US Army as a Lt. COL (Lieutenant Colonel) and things were going quite well.  However, as it is with the Army, their family was going to have to move, during his senior year, in order for his dad to retire on schedule.  Then one day an opportunity presented itself for his dad to attach to an active unit which would not uproot his family leaving them all where they were and give his family the stability they so desperately desired as they looked forward with great anticipation to retirement and settling down in the country.  But that benefit came at an extreme cost.  This father had to go on one final 12 month deployment.  After serving in several other deployed units throughout his 20+ years of service, this would be his final deployment, his one last hoorah, and from my perspective was very unselfish, humbling, and the most generous gift he could give his family.
So I sat in the car about 2 weeks before his dad shipped out watching as this intelligent, strong, high school varsity athlete, broke down in front of me.  Springs of water welled up in his eyes as he tried to explain the pain he felt and the fear, uncertainty and anxiety that flooded his soul.   He understood why dad had to do what he was about to do, but it was a time of great struggle for him and his younger siblings.  It was pouring out of his face that night. 
As I did my best to listen and quote scripture with this young man, God was working in my heart as well.  Although I could not assure my friend of his father’s safety, I was able to promise to be there to walk alongside him through the next difficult, agonizing, painful 12 months.  Thankfully, his father eventually made it back home safely but not without his own invisible scars. 
I recall several conversations that I had with his mother regarding the directions her sons were heading and how hard it was to have her husband gone at such a critical time in her family’s life.  This is when I realized, my ministry to military teens is more than how great of a teen communicator I can be, but really how I can help the Holy Spirit comfort, and work in the lives of military families as a whole.  
As we keep hearing about the war or the conflicts that our military are involved in and regardless of your political ideals, our military families and their teens are on the frontlines of the battle.   They may be throwing baseballs instead of grenades, or may be running at the playground instead of running for cover from mortar shells, and they may be talking to friends about how to beat that video game versus talking to informants about where the next ambush is; but that doesn’t mean they aren’t affected by what their mother or father are doing downrange.  On the contrary, they are acutely aware of the risks and what is going on.
by Jose' Huerta
Jose serves as Community Director in Garmish, Germany. After ministering to the youth of military personnel at Fort Knox in Kentucky with MCYM, Jose and Megan felt God pulling them in a new direction — Europe! Jose and Megan have three children, Luis, Ana and Jeison.
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