Georgia (21) and Harrison (18) Kent have spent their entire lives in a military family. It’s something that they’re both incredibly proud of – so much so that they’ve both decided to pursue careers that will give something back to the Forces community. Here, they share their story of what it’s like to grow up as military children…
BEING born into a military family isn’t a decision you make yourself. It’s one that is pretty much made for you. Being a “pad brat” is almost like its own brand; only other children with military backgrounds will empathise with your feelings and experiences.
My earliest memories of Army life were at Sandhurst; being five years old and carefree. There are certain elements of the house and estate that I remember; paddling in the lake, military parades and living on a street with lots of children my age.
For Harrison, his memory starts in Harrogate when he was five, having recently learnt how to ride a bike and starting school.
When you’re younger, being around the military does have its difficulties, but generally it’s easier to make friends and a new bedroom and new school can be exciting.
Now, my brother and I are the oldest military children still “serving” on our patch. Last month we moved from Chester to Cardiff (move number 15). Most friends that we were brought up with in our battalion of the Royal Welsh all stopped being “active” military children some years ago. It’s a lot harder to settle in to an area as older children.
There are lots of positives we feel we have benefitted from. Every new place is an opportunity to start afresh with brand new people.
We have enjoyed exploring places we might never have seen and grown in confidence as we have to make friends and get involved as soon as we arrive in our new area.
Going abroad and living in Cyprus for four years is probably one of our most treasured experiences and has given us memories for life.
A place called home
For us, “home” has always been Swansea, where the majority of our family is based. But I guess that’s not really our family home.
Home is just wherever we put our roots for a period of time. The house seems to stay the same but the place changes. As we have grown older, we have started to notice more of the difficult side of Army life.
We’ve seen the effect that dad going to Afghanistan really has on our mum, and how people view us as a “split” family.
Our dad has taken part in numerous tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, each time harder than the last.
Whilst dad was away in Bosnia on a peacekeeping mission, someone said to mum: “You’ll be okay; he will come home on weekends.”
It shows that the hardest part of being a military family is not being surrounded by people who are aware of your circumstances – it’s making sure the wider community understand what it’s like.
Advice to others
Our advice to other young people living the military life is simply to make the most of what life throws at you.
Many people don’t get the chance to travel or to visit places even within the UK, let alone the world, so take every opportunity you get, do as many things as possible and embrace it. No posting is ever going to be the same.
My brother and I have been overwhelmed at the work the military has done. Our family is not only immensely proud of my dad but also of other serving military personnel.
Due to this inspiration, I hope to give back in some small way by teaching in SCE schools abroad. Harrison has always been interested in IT and engineering, so hopes to develop this into a career in the military.
Through the confidence we have gained from travelling as military children, next year we are going to teach English in schools in Madagascar and travel to Borneo to work with the orphaned Orangutan project.
We’ve talked about writing a book or starting a blog for other military children; old or new. We hope to share some of our experiences, the pitfalls and laughs and maybe support those of you who need it.