My military youth experience is a bit different from the typical military child. Although I hold the same identification and privilege card as my fellow military dependents, I don’t hold the same experiences as the majority. Over the years, I have interacted with many military kids – those who relocate, those who are just moving into my local military community, or those who are growing up in the Child, Youth, & School Services (CYSS) Program. Hearing their experiences was always interesting, but every time someone heard my story, I’d receive a reaction of shock and astonishment. Unlike most military dependents, I’ve grown up not having much of a relationship with my father.
My father, a career soldier, has never lived with me. Unfortunately, I can count on my hands the number of times I recall seeing him throughout my life. My father, a Marine, wasn’t there to watch me grow up, develop, and mature into the young man that I am today. He’s constantly on the go when it comes to work. Deployments and changing of stations keep him occupied, and this is not an ideal nor stable environment for a child. For me, it seems as though he deploys into my life instead of deploying out of it. The deployments into my life just always seem to last as long as the blink of an eye.
His frequent military deployments often left me feeling abandoned as a child. Our lack of communication left me wondering why he never talked to me. Being his only child that lives in South Carolina, I always felt as if I got the short end of the stick. Every time he went home to North Carolina, he would always visit my sister who lived near him. His absence created a void of a father figure in my life. Although, this obstacle in my life led to my growth and development as a young man. It opened many doors and opportunities in my life, things unforeseen at a young age.
As the years progressed, I was fortunate enough to gain a mentor. That mentor has guided me through my teen years and helped to elevate my success. He would take me on various outings and teach me simple things such as how to tie a tie or how to drive. My mentor has been there for me, and I know I can contact him whenever I need something. Ironically, my mentor is a retiree from the United States Armed Forces. It was Mr. Eugene who took me under his wing, and guided me on a path to a successful life.
While growing up without my father has created a void, it hasn’t stopped my determination and my desire to do positive things. My father being in the armed forces has actually benefited me. Because of his service to our country, I have been able to receive military dependent privileges which has allowed me to register for Fort Jackson’s CYSS program and led me to gain a family – the Boys & Girls Club. Even though my father has been absent, the Boys & Girls Club has been there helping to further my growth and development even more. Through my Club experience, I’ve uncovered many things about myself that I never knew existed. For example, my leadership potential and my voice. These are both things I discovered at the Club, at my Club. I never knew the opportunities that came along with a military identification and privilege card. To those of you reading, enjoy what you have in life. Make the best of your situation. Don’t dwell on what you don’t have, strive for greatness. You can do anything you set your mind to. The world is yours.