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Military youth celebrated at Sackets Harbor assembly

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SACKETS HARBOR — Elementary students recently celebrated the military children in their school and heard their stories about life in families with service members.

The school assembly for kindergarten through fifth grade included more than 36 children of military parents.

When you have parents in the military, student Ryan Young said, you don’t always get to see them like other children do.

“You have to wait a long time sometimes,” he said. “But once they get home it’s exciting to see them again.”

State legislators declared April the Month of the Military Child, part of a nationwide project. In New York, the kickoff event was March 25, when a group of military children, including five from Sackets Harbor Central School, and their families traveled with Operation Military Kids Director Kathryn K. White to Albany.

Austin Rand, one of the five Sackets Harbor students, said he and his classmates got to see how laws are created. Austin, whose father, Kevin Rand, recently returned from Afghanistan, said it can be hard when his family moves and he has to start in a new school.

“Military kids take on hard challenges,” he said. “It doesn’t feel good when we leave, but my dad came back and it feels good.”

He said military children take on added responsibilities when their parents are deployed, such as helping with younger siblings and doing more household chores.

The Month of the Military Child is an important time to honor military youth, especially those affected by deployment, Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, said at the assembly.

“It’s a time to remind people that our soldiers have people at home who might need our support,” Mrs. Russell said.

Student Josie Nussbaum said it can be difficult when her mother is gone.

“I brought pictures of her to school because I missed her,” she said.

Her father, Robert J. Nussbaum, a retired serviceman whose wife is stationed at Fort Drum, said the military can bring a lot of opportunity. “Not all of it is on your time,” he said.

Military service can mean changing plans in a hurry to take a new assignment on the other side of the country or the world, he said. But he sees how military children adapt to transferring to a new school.

“The life lessons for being a military kid are irreplaceable,” he said.

School Superintendent Frederick E. Hall Jr. said the district understands the challenges that military children confront when their parents are deployed. “The deployment process can be very traumatic for kids,” he said. The district tries to reach out to the children when their parents leave or come back, he said.

For more information about Operation Military Kids, contact Ms. White at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County at 788-8450 or kkw39@cornell.edu.

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