by Staff Sgt. Crystal Housman
California National Guard Public Affairs
Nov. 23, 2022
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – To recognize November as the Month of the Military Family, Cal Guard's Child & Youth Program held a creative writing competition for children of Cal Guard service members to write about being part of a military family.
Child and Youth Program staff members selected winning entries from elementary, middle school and high school age divisions. Winners are:
- Elementary Division: Emma Benologa
- Middle School Division: Wyatt Farnham
- High School Division (co-winners):
Gracelyn Farnham & Delilah Hines
Winners will receive restaurant and movie gift cards courtesy of the California Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States.
A Military Family
by Emma Benologa
Elementary School Winner
Daughter of Zocarlo Benologa, Company C, 40th Brigade Support Battalion .
“Having a military family, to me, means having someone in your family who people look up to.”
What it means to have a Military family
by Wyatt Farnham
Middle School Winner
Son of U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Nicole Farnham and Robert Farnham of Cal Guard’s USPFO.
Having a military family to me means having someone in your family who people look up to.
I asked my sister what it means to have one and she said, “To me it means you have to bite the bullet, or in a less formal sense, sometimes you have to suck it up. Sometimes things happen that you aren’t expecting and you have to deal with it.” This reminds me of one of the Army's main sayings “embrace the suck.”
Having a military family can mean great loss and you have to think that everyday if your mom or dad is on active duty.
You might only have one parent at home and your other is away, with this you might have to do different things that aren't normally your responsibilities. This can put a lot of pressure on kids but thanks to military programs they help kids cope and understand this.
I did not remember much when my mom was deployed, but now I better understand it. I look back and see all the great things she had accomplished. Even though she missed part of our lives she made up for it by all the great work she did for our family, California, and the United States.
This is what I believe having a military family means.
High School Division co-winner
Daughter of U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Nicole Farnham and Robert Farnham of Cal Guard’s USPFO.
Military life is a whole different bunch of things: it's amazing, strange, difficult, concerning at times, the list goes on. These are just a few of the things that life as a military child is like.
A lot of military children have a realization that military life is not normal for most kids, however I feel like I am an exception. I grew up my whole life surrounded by civilian children. My whole life I guess I knew that my family dynamic was not normal and did not comply with everyone else's families.
I feel my whole life I was set apart from all the other kids because they didn’t understand what it's like to not have a parent at home, or not being able to go to birthday parties because both mom and dad had to work that weekend. Or why they didn’t understand why mom and dad only wore one thing to work everyday. Why when their hero was Superman or Cinderella or Lightning McQueen, mine was my mom. Why one Halloween I wore my dad's boots and his hat with my princess dress. Or why my mom wasn't home when dad was. They didn't understand that mom and dad are still married but mom isn't living at home with us. What it's like not having a mom when you get your first period and why you were scared to go to school the next day. When mom and dad have drill weekend, you have to go to your friend's house so you're not left alone. When you're writing an essay and your teacher says that you can’t write about how your mother worked with Soldiers’ remains because that material is too dark for a class shared poem. Why the other kids didn’t understand how happy you were when your mom came back from a deployment early and brought you a twinkie, and you got up and ran into her arms with tears in your little eyes like you just saw Tinkerbell. When they didn't understand why you stayed home the days after she left for her next deployment because you just got her back home from the last one.
I always knew that because I'm a military child that made me different. I wouldn't change it for anything. It's hard, scary, challenging, and above all rewarding because it makes our family ours.
Within the chaos of life, I know that my family is there, if not in the flesh in spirit.
“I always knew that because I’m a military child that made me different. I wouldn't change it for anything. It’s hard, scary, challenging, and above all rewarding because it makes our family ours.”
High School Division co-winner
Daughter of U.S. Army Maj. Esmeralda Lozano, Camp Roberts, HHC GTC
Choose a song lyric that best describes your family and expand it into a poem: “Dammit” by blink-182
“I’ll smile, and you’ll wave
We’ll pretend that it’s okay”
Safe to say that's how I felt
I thought that if I put on a brave face it’d all be easier someway
I didn’t expect to cry but the reality of it all hit me like an ocean wave
She was getting shipped away
Foreign land a whole sea away
I wouldn’t have my mom for 365 days
Somedays were harder than others
Sometimes it’d just be silence from her end
And I could feel my own dark cloud seeping in
It was the worst when there’d be loud noises over a call
And that feeling would worsen
Those days were bad
But she always tried her best to reassure me
Telling me things were ‘okay’
Little did I know, she’d surprise me early
I didn’t expect her home for at least another 90 days
I remember the knock
And I remember seeing her face
In shock I shut the door and ran away
Actually, it really was all okay :)