Why Armed Forces Day means so much to military spouses and their children

Written by Linda Lloyd-Jones, Claire Calder Consultancy

Armed Forces Day always takes place on the last Saturday of June in the UK and this year is being celebrated on 24th June. The week before Armed Forces Day is a chance to celebrate and show your support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community, including those from the Navy, Army and RAF including those currently serving, veterans and their families.

We are military spouses which is why Armed Forces Day means so much to us and our children

Our Armed Forces couldn’t do their job without the incredible support of their families and friends. Our military community means so much to Claire and I as we know better than most people how families are often affected by the job that their loved ones do, protecting our country. We are army spouses, our husbands have a combined military service of 80 years between them, and we have been there with our children supporting them along the way. We know and understand that military work demands dedication, hardship and sacrifice, not only from the serving personnel but also their families, so it is important that we recognise the role that they play too.

Approximately 78% of armed forces families have children and over 76,000 service children are attending schools in England alone. There are service children living all over the UK from RAF Lossiemouth in the far north of Scotland to RNAS Culdrose in southern Cornwall, in addition to the large number of families posted overseas. As for Claire and I, we have lost count of the times our husbands have been deployed and we have moved house numerous times. Claire has moved house 16 times including 4 overseas postings, most recently in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, and I have moved house 10 times with 4 overseas postings in the US, South Korea and Kuwait. Our children have moved with us and have been educated in international schools, UK boarding prep schools, UK senior boarding schools and university.

Moving is an inevitable part of military life. Armed Forces children often move home frequently which can bring disruption to education, friendships and social groups. Many families move every two years. In one four-year period we moved house four times partly due to international postings and my heart sinks recalling my youngest daughter saying to me when she was seven, “Mummy, why do I keep having to make new friends every year.” Not only do they leave old friends behind and must make new ones, but educationally they also miss key parts of the curriculum and sometimes end up having to re-do parts they have already covered.

Girls at IBFB

Military children must make huge readjustments in their life. There are often periods when the serving parent may be deployed on operations for long periods, sometimes up to a year. Older children will worry about their safety and younger children sometimes just don’t understand. My eldest daughter once said to me when she was about four and my husband was in Afghanistan “Mummy, the reason Daddy doesn’t come home anymore is because he doesn’t love us.” It was a heart-wrenching moment. Deployments also mean that the absent parent will miss key school events. Both Claire and I have lost count of the number of times our husbands have missed end of term events, plays, sports fixtures and so much more due to overseas deployments. It is also worth noting that readjustments within family life must be made when the absent parent returns and this can also cause upset. While these adjustments can be hard, many military children flourish and military life brings tremendous benefits to service children. The challenges they face can increase their resilience, develop strong leadership and organisational skills. Other positive qualities of the military ethos rub off on them indirectly, like competitiveness and teamwork.

At Claire Calder Consultancy we care enormously about our military community and as a result, our service is free to members of the Armed Forces and FCDO. As mothers of children who have attended boarding school from Year 3 until A level, we have personal experience of the decisions you may currently be considering for your child’s education. We believe that by choosing to board, military children can enjoy a stable education that allows them to flourish academically and maintain their friendship groups without having to move to a new school every few years. If you are looking for a boarding school for your child, prep school or senior school, Claire Calder’s child-centred approach alongside her many years of personal boarding experience means we’ll find somewhere your child can flourish.

We wish you all a Happy Armed Forces Day and thank you all for your service.

Contact Claire Calder at claire@clairecalderconsultancy.com

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