I’m a teenage girl who has been on the move since I was 3 years old. Why? My father is in the United States Military. When I was little, moving was no big deal. The first time I lived here in Japan, I was only 6. But starting in 7th or 8th grade moving made me notice I wasn’t like the general population at the local school. Most of the kids have known each other for years, and then I walk into their lives. That is only part of the adjustments of being a child (teenager) of a military parent(s). Where I am now, the military doesn’t seem to care or want to notice how hard it is for teens. Being a teenager means we need some extra help at times. In turn, the amount of mental health is very limited. If you get into major trouble and need to be seen for a long period by a therapist, they will send you back to the States with only one parent, leaving your family divided by thousands of miles. They talk of caring about our quality of life… but we kids are still waiting on ours. To make matters worse, for a bored, stressed, depressed, low self esteem teen and/or for any other reason, there are some easy-to-get items here. This country is pretty crime-free and guns aren’t allowed. That’s the good part. But what parents don’t realize is you can buy beer and cigarettes out of any vending machine. Many teens and kids are doing it. Convenience store or grocery stores will sell these items without proof of being of age. It goes beyond beer…gin, vodka, or any liquor. I want parents to know there are many teens who are doing OK and can stay away from these temptations, but yet many teens are desperate to fit in and do it any way possible. Especially if you are a military teen and can relate, please write back…..and of course I’m looking for any advice I can use to help my fellow teens in my community.
- Thank you for writing in about your story of being a teenager in a military family in a different country.
- Be sure to check out TeenCentral’s new site! Under the Learn link you’ll find a page entitled Military Family Life. You might find some great resources on this page that relate directly to your situation.
- Keep spreading awareness in your community and school of being a teenager growing up military.
- Mental health care is limited here in the states as well. I’m sure where you are now there are services that will let you stay in that country to receive treatment provided to your family by benefits your father may gain through his employment with the military.
- Don’t let peer pressure pressure you into doing drugs or alcohol. Get involved in your community or school about raising awareness about these issues and stopping them from selling alcohol in vending machines.
- What steps can you take to find out more about mental health for military families in your country?
- What do your friends think of these issues? Could you start a group to raise awareness about these issues?
- What organizations could you join or volunteer with to help spread awareness about these issues?