13 ✪ COMMUNITY Midshipmen Shine Light on Life as Military Kids I would like to reflect on the unique lives of military kids. Military children come from all walks of life and make a pretty fantastic contribution to our country as a result of their unique experiences. These kids are faced with some major life challenges beginning at young ages. They have to deal with being separated from their parents for extended periods of time, not knowing if their mom or dad is safe, frequent moves and an ever-changing social landscape as they enroll in new schools and work to make new friends. Whether their parents joined after their birth or they were born to active-duty mil- itary parents, military kids own life stories begin to branch out in new and worldly ways the moment their parents don a uni- form. I recently had the chance to interview a few military children whose lives have been shaped by their parents' service. They aren't your average military kids, though; these children" are students attending the United States Naval Academy and are players on the Navy Midshipmen football team. These three athletes grew up as military children, yet came from different back- grounds and established their association with military life at different junctures in their lives. My dad wasn't always gone but he left to Korea when I first started playing flag foot- ball; that was kind of hard. As a young kid you really don't understand why your dad left," said Midshipman Noah Copeland. I didn't understand anything he did until later on when I grew up." When Copeland was old enough to realize what his dad was doing and why he grew to have a greater admiration for his father and what he did for the family. Seeing my dad wake up early and come home really late, working those long hours just to provide for us, made me appreciate him more. Looking at it now [and reflecting on the person I've become], I appreciate him a lot more for everything that he did By Department Of Defense | by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Niegel, Defense Media Activity, edited by Erin Wittkop [to help me get where I am today]." Coming from a different background and part of the country, Midshipman Shakir Robinson was a little different. I caught the tail end of my dad's military career" Robinson said [As a result of his military background,] my dad expected higher standards of me." Even though he had only spent a few years as a military child he still came out with a strong sense of respect and high expecta- tions for himself, qualities that most would find exceptional for a person his age. I no- ticed this difference during the interview. Robinson carries himself with a poise that alludes to the reverence with which he re- gards service, duty, tradition and helping others. His teammates had it, too. It's made me have a greater respect for people in the military," Robinson added. He is inspired by the level of love that service members have for their country and the personal sacrifices that they are willing to make like being away from their families during deployments. With a little more time as a military child, Midshipman Joe Cardona's dad had to miss special occasions while he was going up. It was hard not having him there for football practices and sports practices. My mom was real strong; she just made everything nor- mal for us," Cardona said. Despite the fact that his dad wasn't always there for practices and events, Cardona still holds his dad in the highest regard. My military hero would be my dad. The way he balanced his military career with raising a family, I think that is something that I will always treasure and something that I will take as an example to try to set and to fol- low," said Cardona. After speaking with these military kids and soon-to-be service members, I have found a new respect for military children. There are not many kids in the world that have to deal with the unique stressors that military kids do and it's amazing to see how re- silient they become as result of it all. The strong bonds that they forge with their fam- ilies and the values that they hold dear are awe inspiring.