Bethany Carter works for YFC Military in Belgium, and was lucky enough to experience life as a military brat. This is a blog she wrote while serving as a volunteer at Fort Hood, Texas.
"So this past week we had the Camp Eagle Walkabout students over at the house. For those of you who don't know, Camp Eagle is the christian adventure camp we take our youth group to every year, and Walkabout is their gap year program.
We showed them around Ft. Hood, took them to the range to shoot, and had a panel where they could ask questions about military life and ministry. On the panel were two chaplains, my dad, a lower enlisted chaplain's assistant, 2 former military kids who are currently working in Club Beyond, and a chaplain's wife and a military kid. Last year on their evaluations the Walkabout students said that one of their favorite trips was the Ft. Hood trip, and the panel discussion was their favorite thing! I heard the same thing this week too.
What's so funny to me is how foreign this culture was to them. I didn't get to go to the panel, but when I got home the students cornered Abby, Bekah and I and asked to hear our stories. After we told our stories, they asked questions they didn't get to ask at the panel about military life, culture, and our ministry. I was having flashbacks to conversations with my missionary kid friends about what it was like growing up in Africa or Papua New Guinea. In this situation, I was the foreigner.
It's always weird when others have total and complete misconceptions about what everyday life for you is like. I always thought that civilians understood our lives.
We would drive past something and someone would say "What's that?" or "What does that mean?" or "Huh, that's weird. Why is it like that?", and I would realize once again that my life is abnormal in America.
It was weird when no one knew that the army has astronomically high suicide rates. Or that more soldiers die in car accidents than overseas, usually because of drunk driving. It was strange that little things like sewing shops on every street corner or a high concentration of Korean markets and restaraunts around a military base needed to be explained. Or that single soldiers spent a lot of their deployment money on souping up their cars. Or that the drinking age overseas is 16, but there is little to no enforcement so a lot of the kids over there are having their first blackout-drunk experience as early as elementary school. Something everyday for us, like deciding what movies will or won't set off Dad's PTSD, just didn't cross their minds.
It was awesome how the Walkabout students absolutely embraced the military; even those who came in highly distrustful of it. They loved the kids. One mentioned that the ministry going on inside the wire gave him hope for his brother, who had just enlisted.
More than anything, I could see the joy on kids faces as they realized they were being heard. Someone wanted to know. Someone cared. Someone remembered.
The coolest part came at the end. They had money left over from the trip, and decided to donate a portion of it to the youth group so that we could bring some extra kids to service project, kids who most likely would not be able to afford it otherwise.
It just goes to show that God has not forgotten about military brats. He has a purpose and a plan for their lives. He's continually putting them and their situations on people's hearts. God doesn't care about budget cuts or no contracts. He's going to love these kids whether there's money in the budget for it or not.
"This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” "
- Jeremiah 29:10-14
I am a military brat. God loves me, he cares for me, he remembers me. He has called me to go and share that same message with other brats just like me. What an honor. "
"My name is foreigner from a far away land. My feet are covered in earth, they've been here and back again. And I have seen great things from a distance. They beckon me, I follow them. And I move forward to home." (Move Forward, Bethany Dillon)