The study of warfighting, militaries, and soldiering has been practised for millennia. Humans have lamented the rules and ethics of war, its motivations, equipment, tactics, and outcomes since long before academia took notice, and arguably before the advent of writing itself. However, what rarely gets a mention in conventional war studies courses is the impact of soldiering on children and families. The literature on war has historically largely addressed children as a suffix to women, framing them as either innocently (and silently) protected or as collateral damage in wartime. The voices of children within military communities can subsequently get lost, even while appearing central to both jus ad bellum and jus in bello.
Conversely, a brilliant body of research spanning psychology, psychiatry, education, and increasingly social and political sciences puts these voices at the centre of their understanding of the military. This has opened up new avenues of inquiry into the sociological and psychological impacts of war and militarisation. Celebrating Month of the Military Child this April, a number of DRN members have been hard at work in this field, bringing us thought-provoking blogs and asking important questions about how military children learn, support one another, and understand their situation. We really want to spotlight this work and, particularly as a community of researchers that includes ex-service personnel, join the conversation around military families. You will find a couple of calls for participants below which involve exciting research into the experiences of military children relating to both education and mental health. I encourage anyone eligible to volunteer their time and share these calls with your networks.
The Dandelion Poem, and particularly this rendition by British charity Little Troopers, helps us to reflect upon and celebrate the resilience of military children. Whatever your situation or background, resilience is a virtue that many of us have had to muster this year more than ever. I would say that we have much to learn from these dandelions, and I am excited to see how they touch academia in the years to come.
The official flower of the military child is the Dandelion. Why? The plant puts down roots almost anywhere, and it’s almost impossible to destroy. It’s an unpretentious plant, yet good looking. It’s a survivor in a broad range of climates. Military children bloom everywhere the winds carry them. They are hardy and upright. The roots are strong, cultivated deeply in the culture of the military, planted swiftly and surely. They’re ready to fly in the breezes that take them to new adventures, new lands, and new friends.
Experts say that military children are well-rounded, culturally aware, tolerant, and extremely resilient. Military children have learned from an early age that home is where their hearts are, that a good friend can be found in every corner of the world and in every color, and that education doesn’t just come from school. They live history. They learn that to survive means to adapt, that the door closes one chapter of their life opens up to a new and exciting adventure full of new friends and new experiences.
See the full newsletter here: Military Children