As part of Month of the Military Child, the Clarity Child Guidance Center staff chose to share some of their own experiences to increase appreciation of and support for military kids. These heartfelt stories are an invitation for you to start discussions about mental wellness with the children in your life.
San Antonio is Military City USA, so it is no surprise that the Clarity CGC campus has numerous veterans and grown-up military children on staff. Both perspectives are incredibly valuable when working with the military kids in our care!
Susana Juarez-Leal is a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner and pediatric mental health specialist, whose military experiences shaped her into the nurse she is today.
I was in the Navy for 23 year. I retired in 2008 as a Captain (06). I have great memories and wonderful experiences. I was recruited into the Naval Reserves while I was completing my Doctorate in Nursing. At the time I was teaching at UT Austin school of nursing. My first assignment was in the San Diego Unit. I worked at Balboa Naval hospital for at least 5-6 year. Our Unit then became a field unit and we had to learn to set up hospital anywhere that was needed. I went Camp Pendleton, hot weather training at 29 Palms and cold weather training in a Marine base . My most memorable experience was going on 2 medical mission. I went to Ecuador and Peru. It was great to be of service to so many people. The countries are beautiful and the people magnificent. I also had an opportunity to go to Korea. Went to visit the DMZ. It was amazing.
Lisa Guertin, our Food Services Department Director, spoke candidly about her own experiences and how they inform her view of military children’s mental health.
My outlook on military kid’s mental health is that it is very important. Children with parents in the military are exposed to the stress of:
- Moving around from assignment to assignment. Having to start over at a new place, new school etc.
- Being separated from parents being sent to another state or overseas.
- Parents being sent to an assignment in a dangerous region knowing that they could lose a parent or God forbid lose a parent
It is so important for them to have a safe space and trusted people for an outlet.
I have had issues with depression and anxiety from a young age. I was labeled as being too sensitive. In the 70’s & 80’s having mental health issues was still a taboo subject and expressing your feelings was showing weakness.
When I joined the Air Force those squashed down feelings came back, I had no coping mechanisms so I admitted myself to the psychiatric unit at my base. I wish there had been a place like Clarity to help out in those formative years. Knowing that it is ok to be sad or upset and learning how to handle these feelings is a crucial part of growing up.
Sarah Navarro, part of our HR team, recognizes both the struggles and the benefits of her experience growing up as a military child. (Read her full blog here!)
Through the ups and even the downs my experiences as a military child have shaped me into the individual I am today, allowing me to continue to bloom wherever I am planted.