“Now I feel normal.”
Um, wait a minute. This statement is made by a 10 year old. Do we really think about kids who are 10 years old, as not feeling normal? Probably not. After all, he’s just a kid. Right?
When we sat down together and started to talk my first question was, “Why don’t you feel normal?” His response was, “I’m the only military kid in my school. I’m the only military kid that I even know. I don’t have any friends.” This made me incredibly sad and my heart even hurt.
As a culture, we tend to think about war. What we do not think about are the warriors, and more importantly, the warrior’s families. Warriors receive basic training, combat training, all kinds of training about how to be a warrior. The missing link in many cases, is training for the family. We tend to think of kids as naturally resilient, understanding and forgiving. We forget that they are simply kids.
Today’s warriors don’t always live on base. Many of our troops live in local communities. They live next door, attend our church, their kids go to our schools, we see them at the supermarket, which makes us think they live life just like us. We don’t realize the impact on the family of long term combat deployments that cause fear in the hearts and minds of our kids, who worry about the safety of a deployed parent. Some even worry if their mom or dad will come home at all.
When our military families come to Eagle Rock Camp, the kids participate in interactive workshops that teach them How to Be a Healthy Kid. They meet and interact with other military kids. They get to share fears, concerns, understanding and start to develop their own cohort. We teach them how to return home and connect within their communities. Both adults and children participate in interactive workshops and outdoor recreation therapy to learn how to be a family again.
The young boy who said he now “feels normal”, returned home, returned to school and his teacher assigned a history project in his American History Class. He decided to tell the story of our military families – complete with PowerPoint and written slides to share. He talked about his dad’s service and deployment. He found his voice and spoke up, for the very first time. He called me to say, “Miss Lynn, Guess what! I have friends who “get me”! I never thought I would have friends and now I do! My teacher liked my presentation so much, that I did it in front of whole middle school!”
The support from the Disabled Veterans National Foundation (DVNF) helps us expand our program and reach even more kids and families. We show them all a better way to heal from the hidden wounds of war. We help these families come all the way back home.
“Miss Lynn” Marilla is the Founder and Executive Director of Eagle Rock Camp, a 501c3 organization whose MISSION is to use faith in action to bring military families together to heal, reconnect in their communities, restore their hope and emerge as an empowered, purpose driven unit.