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Understanding The Military Culture

Military (adult) culture is like an iceberg.  Above the waterline are the visible aspects of the culture, such as ranks, uniforms, medals, salutes and ceremonies. At the waterline are more subtle cultural signs, including service creeds and oaths of office. Below the waterline are the hidden aspects of military culture – the values of discipline, teamwork, self-sacrifice, loyalty and fighting spirit. 

Well Folks Experience This

Glimpses of the Military Child Envisioned Future, Tales of Valor, and Narratives of Bravery and Perseverance at "Resilience" The Unstoppable Power 2024 World Expo! 

Young Military Kid Image (Brat)

Meet The Military Child Culture

Military Children (culture, duty, honor, patriotism, country) have a strict (outward) adherence to military values is what separates most from their civilian peers. Children of military personnel often mirrors the values, ideals and attitudes of their parents more than children of civilians.


10. Their sense of humor. Military kids do all they can to keep their spirits up. Some carry life-sized cardboard posters of parents called "Flat Daddies" and "Flat Mommies" to keep deployed loved ones close at hand. They carry them to pizza parties and movies, sporting events and concerts. During a past deployment, military wife Vivian Greentree's sons took it a step further. They pasted pictures of their deployed dad on a stick, dubbed it a "dad on a stick" and took it everywhere with them. They even asked their "dad" to help them make macaroni and cheese. Share your story here #mcfunnystory. 

9. They selflessly serve their community. Military children possess a strong sense of service — perhaps modeled after their military parents who serve and sacrifice daily. A shining example is last year's Army Military Child of the Year, Amelia McConnell. Soon after her father returned from Iraq in 2006, he was diagnosed with leukemia. After treatment, he redeployed to Iraq in 2007. In 2009, her only brother, Sgt. Andrew McConnell, was killed in Afghanistan. Still, Amelia excelled in school and in sports, and volunteered hundreds of hours a year for a number of organizations. When asked why she does so much, she said, "I always think there are a lot of people in worse situations than I am." Share your story here #mctalesofvalor.

8. They stand by their military parent through thick and thin. I met a high school senior several years ago who told me his father would miss his graduation and his departure to college. But this teen wasn't upset in the least. "He loves to be a soldier, and if it makes him happy, it makes me happy," he said. "How can I possibly complain that he's not watching me graduate when he's out there sacrificing for our nation." Share your story here #mcthroughthestorms

7. Their sense of patriotism. Zachary Laychak was 9 years old when his father was killed Sept. 11, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Laychak struggled over the years with anger and confusion over the incident. But as time passed, his initial anger evolved into a deep sense of patriotism. "As terrible as this whole situation was, I know he was a very patriotic person," he said of his father, and that he died serving his country. That's a way he would have been proud to go. Share a story here. #mcpatriots.

6. They support each other. Several years ago, I met an amazing group of military kids at a camp for children of fallen service members hosted by the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. Over the course of a long weekend in D.C., the children bonded over their shared experiences, offering hope and support to each other. The camp and fellow survivors give "us a sense of we're not alone in this fight of grieving," said attendee, Ben Suplee, whose father, Sgt. 1st Class Daniel A. Suplee, died while serving in Afghanistan. Share your story here #thepowerofthe6.

5. Their adaptability. Military children change school systems six to nine times on average. Felicity and Abigail Horan, twin daughters of Army Lt. Col. Dave Horan, described their experiences as military kids at a "Joining Forces" event last year. Now in the seventh grade, the girls are attending their fifth school after eight military moves. They spoke of "always saying goodbye" to friends and that their father missed five of their birthdays. But, Felicity said, "Don't feel sorry for us…. We are stronger because of our experiences." Share your story here #mcresiliency.

4. Their compassion. A number of kids have military parents who return home wounded, some with visible wounds and others with less-evident injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury. These kids immediately step up to help out at home – taking on additional chores, pitching in to babysit — during their parent's recovery. Army Spc. Kevin Wear, father of five, suffered a traumatic brain injury and leg injury in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb blew up the vehicle he was riding in. He often struggles to remember dates and words, but his kids don't see him any differently. "All five of my kids believe I'm Superman – the toughest, strongest guy in the world," he said. Share your story here #mchiddenheros.

3. Their global knowledge. Many military kids have traveled across the nation and around the world. They have an innate appreciation for cultural diversity and knowledge of world events that most kids who never crossed state lines would be hard-pressed to match. At a Joining Forces event last year, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno said he understands the challenges faced by military families — he moved his wife and children 24 times during his 36-year military career. Today, the general said, his children are successful adults in large part because of their military upbringing, the resilience it adds, and the teachers who took an interest in them. Share your story here #themcadvantage.

2. Their strength. They've dealt with a decade of war and multiple deployments, with the associated worry and fear. But these challenges also have equipped them with a resilience that will prepare them for life's setbacks and hardships. Nicole Marie Daly, the Army's 2013 Child of the Year, has moved nine times and has attended three high schools so far. Growing up in a military family "created resiliency because every time we move, I have to constantly prove myself as an individual and my capabilities," Nicole said. Share your story here #mcpower

1. They serve too. Their military parent signed on the dotted line; their children did not. Yet, they must deal with deployments, frequent moves and school transitions, and they do so with courage and grace. As a nation, we owe them a debt of gratitude, First Lady Michelle Obama told a group of high school girls last April. "Ultimately, you understand that your parents are part of something far bigger than themselves," she said. "By working so hard …, you give your parents the peace of mind they need to focus on their mission. With your service, you make their service possible. And for that, we can't thank you enough."

Share your story here #mcservice



Competence is the ability or know-how to handle situations effectively. It's not a vague feeling or hunch that “I can do this.” Competence is acquired through actual experience. Children can’t become competent without first developing a set of skills that allows them to trust their judgments, make responsible choices, and face difficult situations.


Children with close ties to family, friends, school, and community are more likely to have a solid sense of security that produces strong values and prevents them from seeking destructive alternatives. Family is the central force in any child’s life, but connections to civic, educational, religious, and athletic groups can also increase a young person’s sense of belonging to a wider world and being safe within it.


True confidence, the solid belief in one’s own abilities, is rooted in competence. Children gain confidence by demonstrating their competence in real situations. Confidence is not warm-and-fuzzy self-esteem that supposedly results from telling kids they’re special or precious. Children who experience their own competence and know they are safe and protected develop a deep-seated security that promotes the confidence to face and cope with challenges. When parents support children in finding their own islands of competence and building on them, they prepare kids to gain enough confidence to try new ventures and trust their abilities to make sound choices.


Children need a fundamental sense of right and wrong to ensure they are prepared to make wise choices, contribute to the world, and become stable adults. Children with character enjoy a strong sense of self-worth and confidence. They are more comfortable sticking to their own values and demonstrating a caring attitude toward others.

It is a powerful lesson when children realize that the world is a better place because they are in it. Children who understand the importance of personal contribution gain a sense of purpose that can motivate them. They will not only take actions and make choices that improve the world, but they will also enhance their own competence, character, and sense of connection. Teens who contribute to their communities will be surrounded by reinforcing thank yous instead of the low expectations and condemnation so many teens endure.


Children who learn to cope effectively with stress are better prepared to overcome life’s challenges. The best protection against unsafe, worrisome behaviors may be a wide repertoire of positive, adaptive coping strategies.


When children realize that they can control the outcomes of their decisions and actions, they’re more likely to know that they have the ability to do what it takes to bounce back. On the other hand, if parents make all the decisions, children are denied opportunities to learn control. A child who feels “everything always happens to me” tends to become passive, pessimistic, or even depressed. He sees control as external—whatever he does really doesn’t matter because he has no control of the outcome. But a resilient child knows that he has internal control. By his choices and actions, he determines the results. He knows that he can make a difference, which further promotes his competence and confidence. 


World Expo


April 27

The Unstoppable Power

The Month of The Military Child

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