Veterans Day and Month of the Military Family

Za'Niya Cline, Writer

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November 11th is Veteran’s Day. This month is also the month of Military Families. This month, we recognize those who have served but also their families who support and sacrifice their time with their loved ones for our country. Most families, including mine, would agree that there are pros and cons to being a military family. 

Ashley Barnes, my mother,  is a veteran Air Force member and served eight years in the military. She shared, “The military was a great experience for me. It allowed me to travel the world and see things that I could never imagine. It was awesome for my family because they picked up on different cultures and experiences.” She suffers from PTSD and anxiety and doesn’t like to be in large crowds, small spaces, or places with one exit. 

My father Terrick Barnes still serves the U.S, but he is on Air Force reserves and has to go to Little Rock the first of every month for work. When asked how his experience in the military was, he responded, “Going into the military wasn’t a difficult decision for me. I had three options my senior year; it was either go to college on a scholarship, join the military, or stay home and get a local job and hang around my friends and possibly end up on the wrong side of the law.” He had a track scholarship but didn’t take the SAT for various reasons, so college was out of the question for him. He decided to join the military because he had seen the effects of what staying in his hometown had on numerous other people after they graduated high school and he knew he did not want that. 

The impact it had on his family was a negative one as well as a positive one. “Some of the negative aspects would consist of the deployments, temporary duties, the long hours, the different shifts, missing birthdays, holidays, and special moments you can never get back,” he said. He tends to look on the bright side, though. He said the positive aspects would be that he has had the opportunity to do what very few can’t and won’t do, which is to serve his country. He met great people from different walks of life and backgrounds. He enjoys the respect and admiration that he receives from strangers, and it is very heartwarming to him. The military also helps him up financially and helps him structure his life after the military with education and job opportunities. His absolute favorite part though is that he never has to spend hours in the closet, deciding what to wear the next day. 

My family’s experience isn’t unique to families living near Redstone Arsenal and Research Park. Junior Shelby West’s father is a retired Marine Corps. When asked the advantages and disadvantages of being in a military family, she responded, “A con would definitely be his deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan for most of my childhood. He has PTSD now, and my mom basically had to raise us on her own when he was away.” But, she’s also very proud of her dad for serving our country, and she gets military benefits as well. 

Remember to thank any veterans you know for their service and also remember to support your friends who are a part of military families.

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