Michael Vitacca: Reflections from a Military Teen

blog_moftmkids_dna 0

GI Celebrates the Month of the Military Child

When I was little, moving was an adventure. It was cool to go to a new town and a new house. There were new yards to explore and new friends to make. I remember one of our early PCS moves to Alabama. I was happy about the opportunity to see new things. As I got older, moving was still a pretty exciting experience. I made lots of friends all over the country, and saw places most people just read about. When we moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, I found the place that I really loved. I made tons of friends, did well academically and athletically, and just fit in. Eventually the thought of moving did creep up though. I didn’t want to leave my friends and home. Luckily I was able to finish my four years at Loyola College Prep and graduate with my friends. That was the first time I felt such a connection to a place, and leaving all I had worked so hard to accomplish would have been terrible.

I would say that military teens have so many more advantages than normal teens. We’ve had the opportunity to visit various places around the country and meet many people with different backgrounds and views. Those experiences give military teens the ability to get along with very diverse groups of people and handle a wide variety of situations. Also, we tend to be very resilient and adept at handling changes. Our lives are constantly subjected to deployments, moves, and other stressors that take a lot of time to learn how to deal with. However, our experience helps later in life.

There are disadvantages though. One of the biggest is that we never get to completely establish ourselves anywhere. Over and over, I would be doing great and making lots of friends, just to be torn away after a year or two. There were so many times I wished that I could’ve been on the same soccer team for more than a couple years, or that I had grown up with the same group of friends. So many of my friends met each other when they were very little. They grew up together and formed special bonds. I always had to work my way into those friend groups. It would have been nice to grow up in the same place.

Deployment was always a scary thing. I lived with the possibility of something happening to my dad and there was nothing I could do to stop it or help. When my dad deployed to Afghanistan, whenever something came up in the news regarding the war, I would always wonder if he was close to the event, or if it had the potential to hurt him. It’s extremely hard to deal with thoughts like those regularly.

I wish people knew just how hard it is to move around our whole lives. A lot of people are very supportive of us when we come into a new place, but there are still a lot of challenges that come with the territory. Even filling out college applications was extremely hard because of all the moves. There isn’t a box to explain why I was never in a club or on a team for more than a couple years at a time. We military kids are tough and we do well in new situations, but I wish people knew just how much of a toll those moves took on us.
Right now I’m studying Biomedical Science at Texas A&M. It’s an extremely interesting topic and has the potential to be a very good career. I’d like to pursue the medical field a little bit further and join the Air Force as a doctor. There are a whole lot of opportunities for doctors in the military, and it would allow me to give back to my country.

Editors Note: Special thanks to Michael Vitacca for sharing his personal reflections so that people can come to better understand the service and sacrifice of our military families and kids in particular.

Gratitude Initiative (GI) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit that helps build awareness of the great service of military families while providing educational support and college scholarships to the children and families of military service members, veterans, disabled veterans, and those killed in defense of our country.