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Month of the Military Child

Two women and their military families have different experiences, but both found their transition to post-service life made easier and more enriched by the work of DAV.

Naomi Mathis was a single mother looking for a career that would provide security for her kids and give her a sense of purpose. She found it by serving in the Air Force. 

But that service wasn’t easy. She deployed three times, including a combat tour providing convoy security in the early stages of the war in Iraq. It took a toll on her. The sounds of bombs and gunfire continued haunting her after she returned home. But Mathis understood that she wasn’t the only one impacted by her service—so were her children.

“Military kids have no choice but to grow up faster than their civilian peers,” said Mathis. “They have to be resilient and know that their world is ever-changing. Mommy or daddy won’t be at your graduation or your birthday, and may have even missed seeing you born. Your school will constantly change, and you won’t graduate high school with the same friends you went with to kindergarten. In this time of uncertainty, while we are all concerned about isolating, and it is the military child who has the added burden of wondering if their parent will leave them. Any crisis, any national emergency, the military child bears the biggest burden of isolation."

Today, Mathis finds her purpose through her work as a DAV benefits advocate helping to make a difference in the lives of her fellow veterans. “There is nothing better than being involved in an organization whose sole function is to make sure that I am able to continue on, to take care of my family and really see that come around full circle,” she said. 

Brenda Crawley, on the other hand, is the spouse of a Navy veteran. Crawley’s husband joined the Navy in 1998, inspired to serve because he wanted to defend his country. His service would take him around the world on sea duty, which meant extensive time away from his family as well as frequent moves. 

“Being a military family is an amazing experience,” said Crawley, “but can sometimes be tough on kids. As military kids, moving to another state can be hard."

During his time in the Navy, being away from home was tough on the Crawley kids. 

“My kids are now 14 and 16, so they have been through so much—not having their dad home for eight months out of the year,” said Crawley. “So, I tried to be there for them as much as I can. I volunteered at their schools and anywhere I could. I love helping, and being a mother to my kids makes me happy.”

Something else that brought joy to the Crawley family was Camp Corral. Through DAV’s Just B Kids Scholarship program, DAV and Golden Corral team up to provide a free, one-of-a-kind summer camp for children of wounded, ill, injured or fallen military service members or veterans. 
“Every summer, my kids have looked forward to Camp Corral,” she said. “They get so excited when they know they are going to camp. They both have opened up so much, learning to talk to others and making new friends was always hard for my kids, but throughout the years the camp has helped so much.”

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