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5 Ways to Celebrate Pride Month as a Military Kid

Pride month is often a time for people to come together. It’s a way to show support, form community, and celebrate diversity.

Depending on your situation, that might feel difficult this year. You might be preparing for a move or are brand new to the area. You also might be restricted by COVID-19 safety policies.

So here are five ways to celebrate Pride even from your home.

1. Chat with LGBTQ+ teens

If you are 13-19, you can chat online with other LGBTQ+ teens in groups facilitated by staff from LGBTQ+ centers around the United States. Just follow the link to Q-Chat Space from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resource page.

2. Learn About LGBTQ+ History

Pride month was inspired by the Stonewall Riots in June 1969. You can learn about them from the National Archives along with other important events.

You can learn about LGBTQ+ military history at Military OneSource.

3. Make Your Own Rainbow Party

In 1878, Gilbert Baker created a rainbow flag as a symbol of pride for the LGBTQ+ community. Now many people use the rainbow to celebrate and show support for LGBTQ+ folks.

You can create your own Pride celebration. Food? Try making a rainbow cake. Dress code? Make your own rainbow-themed T-shirt. Get creative and have fun!

4. Support LGBTQ+ Students

The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) can teach you how to help make school a positive and safe place for LGBTQ+ students. You find a link to GLSEN in the CDC resources.

5. Attend a Virtual Pride Event

Many of the usual Pride events will be digital for 2021. You can search for “virtual pride 2021” or look for your local LGBTQ+ center for more information.


Pride Month for LGBTQ+ Military Kids and Allies

Pride month is here!

Pride month is a time for people to gather together to show support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Being LGBTQ+ as a Military Kid

LGBTQ+ military kids can face unique challenges and opportunities.

The military has had a history of having specific policies toward LGBTQ+ people. For some military families, this has led to a lot of conversations about being LGBTQ+. For others, they avoid talking about it. This can make it feel complicated when you’re trying to figure out your own identity and experiences.

Many LGBTQ+ military kids report that moving is a mixed bag. You might find it tiring having to “come out” over and over. You might also feel some freedom in exploring how you present yourself. You can experiment with what you share with people as you live in different places.

The frequent change of military life can help teach an important lesson: most situations are temporary. If you find yourself in an unsupportive environment, you can know it will not last forever.

That doesn’t mean you need to just wait for things to get better. If you find yourself in a challenging situation, there are communities and support networks to help right now.

Friends and mentors from previous duty stations can also be a great source of support. Don’t hesitate to reach out, even if it’s been a while since you talked.

Being an Ally as a Military Kid

Chances are, you know someone who is LGBTQ+.

In Gen Z, 1 in 6 people identifies as LGBTQ+1. People are also coming out at higher rates than previous generations.2

So how can you be a supportive friend? The most important thing is to be a good listener:

  • Focus on understanding. Sometimes when we listen, we get too focused on how we’re going to respond. Listen to understand.
  • Ask before giving advice. If a friend talks about a problem, it’s normal to want to help them out. Sometimes advice actually shuts down a conversation. Ask if they want advice or if they just want to talk.
  • Be mindful of language. We pick up terms based on habit. Sometimes these terms assume people are straight or have a certain gender, like “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” Notice what words your friend uses and mirror them. If you’re unsure, it’s OK to ask.


Read more about LGBTQ+ Wellness on Military Kids Connect.

Learn how to help a friend you’re worried about.



Jones, J. M. (2021, April 3). LGBT Identification Rises to 5.6% in Latest U.S. Estimate.

Moskowitz, D. A., Rendina, H. J., Alvarado Avila, A., & Mustanski, B. (2021). Demographic and social factors impacting coming out as a sexual minority among Generation-Z teenage boys. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity. Advance online publication.

3 Ways to be Mentally Healthy

Life can be hard these days. It can feel like a lot to balance school, friends, family, maybe work or romantic relationships. Sometimes it can feel like there’s a lot of pressure to figure things out right now.

Not surprisingly, that stress can really affect our mental health. It can even contribute to anxiety or depression.

The good news? We can train ourselves to be mentally tough. Like physical fitness, there are forms of mental fitness we can practice.

1. Befriend Stress

What’s your first reaction when you hear the word “stress?” Does your mind jump to things that stress you out? Does your body tense up? Or you think, “Ugh!”

Here’s the funny thing about stress. How we think about stress changes how it affects us. Scientists have looked at stressful events and jobs.

They found that people who saw stress as a good thing:

  • Performed better
  • Had fewer stress-related health problems
  • Felt more positive

How can stress be a good thing? When we feel stressed, our body reacts differently mentally and physically. These changes are designed to help us overcome problems.

For example, when we feel stressed, our mind likes to focus. It really likes to focus on the challenge or problem. If we want to relax and avoid the problem, this focus feels upsetting. But if we want to solve and overcome the problem, this focus helps us.

Common changes with stress include: energy, focus, quick reactions, and pressure to act.

When you start to feel stress, try telling yourself positive things about stress, like:

  • This energy will help me
  • This is what I need to get this done
  • My body is taking care of me

2. Take a Break from Busy Brain

It might sound weird that we need to learn how to relax. Isn’t that something we just do?

Our minds like to run on autopilot. Part of our brain is like a mouse on a mouse wheel: it just wants to keep going the same way. The more we think or act a certain way, the more our mind wants to continue doing the same thing.

When life is full of activity and challenges, this can cause problems. Even during our “relaxing” time, our brain will act like it’s in stress mode. It keeps running on the mouse wheel.

That’s why it’s important to learn how to intentionally shift from busy brain into relaxed brain.

Some ways to get into relaxed brain:

Make choices: Busy brain runs on autopilot. To switch into relaxed brain, pause. Ask yourself: what am I doing? What do I want to be doing?

Be in the moment: Busy brain likes to jump around in time. It can move between current problems, future worries, and past experiences in seconds. For relaxed brain, focus on what’s happening right now. Use your senses to connect to the present. Notice what you can hear, see, touch, smell, or taste.

Give up changing: Busy brain likes to fix, solve, and change things. Let things be how they are right now. There is time to change them later.

Think about the big picture: Busy brain tends to narrow in on specific goals, problems, or worries. Like the mouse on the mouse wheel, it doesn’t notice the wider world. Expand your attention. If your mind wants to focus on unfinished work, also think about everything you have finished. If your mind wants to focus on this week’s stress, also think about something you’re looking forward to in the future. Imagine your mind is a camera. If you zoom out, what else will you notice?

3. Build a Toolkit

We build mental toughness over time. There are many tools that can help you.

Learn about feelings

Cope with worry

Use mobile apps

Try counseling


Identifying Mental Illness

What is Mental Health?

Everyone feels sad or worried sometimes. How do you know if you’re dealing with more than “just a bad day?”

When we talk about mental health, it is about more than how we feel. Mental health is about how we react to situations. This response includes our emotions, thoughts, physical feelings, and actions.

Sometimes our reactions are helpful. If you have an important test coming up, it makes sense to think about it. You might feel nervous and try to feel better by studying. While you feel anxious, that doesn’t mean you have an anxiety disorder. In fact, if you had no worries you might not prepare and do worse on the test!

It might be a disorder if the intensity of the response is too much. For example, you might feel scared of saying something embarrassing in front of others to the point that you can’t talk.

It can also be a disorder if your reactions have a negative impact on important parts of your life. If you feel so sad you don’t spend any time with other people, you might have depression.

Is It Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness. Nearly 1 in 3 people in the United States will have an anxiety disorder during their lifetime. That’s a lot!1

Sometimes anxiety disorders affect kids and teens differently than adults. It’s common for anxiety to feel like a physical illness. It can come out as a headache, stomach ache, or nausea. It can also come out as restlessness like you can’t sit still or keep your thoughts focused. It can be frustrating to feel like you can’t explain why you feel bad. You might have the urge to yell, cry, or say mean things.

If someone asks you why you’re upset and you think, “I don’t know,” take a moment to check in with yourself. Are you worried, overwhelmed, or feeling unsafe? There’s a chance that anxiety is coming out as anger.

Here are some more ways to recognize anxiety:

Emotions: Worry, nervousness, dread, overwhelmed, guilt, irritation

Physical Sensations: Fidgety, amped up, on edge, tired, headaches, stomach aches, muscle pain or tension, crying when thinking about worries

Thoughts: Negative thoughts about the future and worst-case scenarios, like;

  • Worry about failure (“What if I fail the test?”)
  • Being rejected (“What if she makes fun of me for asking her out?”)
  • Safety of loved ones (“What if Mom dies during deployment?”)


  • Procrastinating
  • Avoiding people or situations related to your worries
  • Excessive studying, reviewing, or list-making
  • Repeatedly thinking over a situation
  • Skipping school or other important activities
  • Feeling frozen, unable to talk or move
  • Continually seeking reassurance for a situation or decision

A lot of the listed feelings and actions can be normal. Worry becomes an anxiety disorder when it hurts your daily life.

Is It Depression?

Depression is also a common form of mental illness. 1 in 5 people in the United States will have depression at some point in their life.2

Here are some common signs of depression:

Emotions: Sadness, hopelessness, guilt, self-hate, anger, emptiness, not being able to enjoy activities you usually would

Physical Sensations: Tired, heavy, slow, muscle aches

Thoughts: Negative or critical thoughts about yourself, others, or the world, like

  • Self-criticism (“I never do anything right”)
  • Stressful events (“I’ll never figure this homework out”)
  • Failing in relationships (“I make everything worse for them”)
  • Thinking about suicide or death


  • Isolating from others
  • Over-sleeping
  • Eating more or less than usual
  • Giving up on hobbies or interests
  • Spending more time in passive activities like watching videos or playing low-effort video games
  • It feels impossible to make decisions about anything

There are some ways depression might affect you differently than adults. When adults are depressed, they tend to withdraw from all people. You might find yourself avoiding adults but still spending time with friends.

Sleep problems can also be a sign of depression. You might still get a normal amount of sleep, but at different times or broken up. Like you fall asleep later and wake up later, or take naps throughout the day. You might feel tired no matter how much you sleep.

Depression can also contribute to unsafe actions. When we feel like “nothing matters anyway,” it can lead to risky decisions. You might take more dares from friends, break the rules, or experiment more with alcohol or drugs.

Depression can also feel like anger. You might feel irritated all the time. You might feel like your temper is harder to control. Sometimes you might have urges for destruction. This could be destroying relationships, throwing out items that you used to care about, or self-harm.

Just like anxiety, some symptoms of depression can be a normal part of life. It’s normal to feel sad or have negative thoughts at times. You will likely feel unmotivated some days.

Help is Available

If you feel like you might have anxiety or depression, it’s important to talk to someone. A mental health provider can give you a full assessment to see if you have a diagnosis. They can also talk about ways to feel better. You can talk to an adult about scheduling an appointment.

Even if you don’t have a diagnosis, talking to other people can help us feel better. Try reaching out to a friend, trusted adult, school counselor, or family doctor. You can also receive confidential counseling from Military OneSource.

A serious symptom of mental illness is thinking about or attempting suicide. If you have thoughts about hurting yourself or suicide, seek help immediately.

You can:

  • Call 911
  • Call a suicide hotline. In the United States, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
  • Reach out to a trusted adult []
  • Find resources at


1. National Institute of Mental Health (2017, November). Any anxiety disorder.

2. Patten, S. B. (2008). Major depression prevalence is very high, but the syndrome is a poor proxy for community populations' clinical treatment needs. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 53(7), 411-419.


May is Mental Health Awareness Month

This May we want to take some time to talk about mental health. It’s been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic started. The pandemic created many challenges, anxieties, and disappointments. If you’ve been struggling, you aren’t alone. Nearly half of teens and kids in the U.S. have shown some symptoms of mental illness during this year.1

Talking about mental health in military families can be complicated.

Pressure to Hide

There is still a lot of fear about how mental health affects military careers. You might have heard that a diagnosis could end your parent’s career. You might have a parent who sees a civilian for treatment, so their command doesn’t find out. Maybe you’ve seen a family member struggle, but they want to handle it on their own.

Some people connected to the military talk negatively about people with mental illness. You might have even heard that younger generations aren’t “tough enough.”

That kind of pressure around mental health can affect everyone in a military-connected family. It can create a culture of not talking about mental health. Or it can make it seem like having a mental health diagnosis is really bad.

Hearing these doubts can make you feel alone if you’re struggling.

What we Know

Mental health disorders are one of the most common forms of illness. In fact, 47 percent of people in the United States will have a mental health disorder sometime in their lifetime.2 That’s nearly half of all people in the country!

Sometimes mental health disorders are triggered by life events. For example, the pandemic may have caused new worries. Symptoms can go away with treatment or life changes.

It’s important to take mental health seriously early in life. Research has shown that half of mental health disorders start by the age of 14.3 Like other health conditions, it helps to get treatment early. Unfortunately, most people wait an average of 10 years to get treatment.2 That’s a long time to be struggling alone. Think of how many events, goals, and relationships could be affected in 10 years.

Make it a Routine

It’s important to monitor mental health similar to physical health. Have you ever had a physical exam for school or sports? Or been taken to the dentist for a check-up and cleaning?

Doctors recommend that mental health be treated similarly with routine check-ins. Most people experience mental health symptoms before they develop a full disorder.4 Check-ins can help address problems before they get worse.

In the military, for example, the Navy SEALs have regular check-ins for their mental health. Many receive counseling to help prevent the development of a disorder. Counseling can also help create resilience, the ability to adapt to stress and challenges. It’s all part of a good health plan.

Where to Start

Later this month, we’ll be talking about signs of anxiety and depression. We’ll also go over some helpful tools to improve mental health.

In the meantime, this site has information about coping with stress and worry. You can also receive confidential counseling from Military OneSource

A serious symptom of mental illness is thinking about or attempting suicide. If you have thoughts about hurting yourself or suicide, seek help immediately.

You can:

  • Call 911
  • Call a suicide hotline. In the United States, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
  • Reach out to a trusted adult []
  • Find resources at


1. Racine, N., Cooke, J. E., Eirich, R., Korczak, D. J., McArthur, B., & Madigan, S. (2020). Child and adolescent mental illness during COVID-19: A rapid review. Psychiatry research, 292, 113307.

2. Kessler RC, Angermeyer M, Anthony JC, et al. Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of mental disorders in the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health Survey Initiative. World Psychiatry 2007; 6: 168–76

3. World Health Organization. (2020, September, 28). Adolescent mental health.

4. Colizzi, M., Lasalvia, A., & Ruggeri, M. (2020). Prevention and early intervention in youth mental health: is it time for a multidisciplinary and trans-diagnostic model for care?. International journal of mental health systems, 14, 23.


How to Be an All-In Friend

As a MilKid, you learn how to make new friends with every PCS move. What you might not know is that you have the power, right now, to make a huge difference in the lives of your buddies by being an all-in friend.

An all-in friend has their buddy’s back and does what they can to keep them safe.

Service members who are all-in friends say, “I’ve got your six,” which is another way to say they are watching your back and looking out for you. Service members back up their words by checking on their friends and helping to keep them safe — and MilKids can do this too.

Here are five ways to be an all-in friend:

1. Ask if your friend is OK. Text, call, or chat with your friend and ask them how they are doing.

2. Listen to what your friend says. Focus on what they say and try your best to understand how they’re feeling. 

3. Remind your friend that if somebody is hurting them, it isn’t their fault. Sometimes kids blame themselves when parents or family members hurt or neglect them, but it is never the child’s fault.

4. Support your friend so they don’t feel alone. Encourage them to talk to a trusted adult.

5. Tell a trusted adult. If you think one of your friends is in an unsafe situation, even if you aren’t 100 percent sure, talk to a trusted adult.

Build your circle of trust

All MilKids need a circle of trusted adults. These should be people who you can go to at any time if you need to talk or are struggling with something. Because of PCSing, you’ll need to add new people to your circle of trust at each new duty station. You can still call a trusted adult who lives far away, but it’s good to have someone close by to turn to as well.

Trusted adults may include your mom, dad, or another family member, as well as a neighbor, teacher, or coach. Or it may be a child and youth behavioral military and family life counselor at your school or Military and Family Support Center.

Your trusted adult will likely know how to get the right help for your friend. The adults in our military community can turn to the Family Advocacy Program, where there are experts who can help your friend and their family get help and heal.

You and your friends have the right to be protected, cared for, and safe with adults. Share the 5 Ways to Help a Friend You’re Worried About video with your friends so they will know how to look out for you too.

- Military Community & Family Policy

Military Kids are Mighty

April is Month of the Military Child. During this month, we recognize the strength and sacrifice made by military-connected kids like you.

We know military kids face unique challenges.

Living Military Ready

A big part of being in the military is maintaining military readiness. Service members have to be able to adapt to the needs of the military mission.

Military kids also feel the effect of "always be ready." Sometimes this means your parent's commitments, schedule, or future change quickly or unexpectedly. It can mean canceled events or rushed plans. You've probably seen how "always ready" means "always adapting."

Trying to be ready for anything can lead to a general sense of uncertainty. Anticipating change can make it hard to relax. Routines may not feel as comforting. Sometimes it can feel like no one can give you clear answers about what to expect.

You might feel like you're just...waiting. And then, suddenly, things are happening really quickly. That "hurry-up-and-wait" pace can be jarring.

Living military ready means you serve too.


You can often be separated from your military parents. Your parents can be away for weeks or months of  training. This frequent time away means there's a "new normal" in your family every few months. Parents can be deployed into uncertain conditions. Sometimes military parents are assigned  to an unaccompanied duty station, which means living apart from them for one to two years.

These separations can lead to:

  • Increased responsibility at home
  • Anxiety about your parent's safety
  • Limits on how much or how often you get to talk to them

Military kids often grow up faster than other kids. You have worries other kids don't. You learn to be resourceful. That might mean finding friends and mentors to help out. It might mean becoming more independent or solving your own problems.

Separations mean you sacrifice too.


Military life often means moving because your parent has a permanent change of station.

Military kids move three times more often than most civilian kids. You could move six to nine times while growing up. Some kids move more than a dozen times!

Each of those moves can come with a lot of changes:

  • New friends
  • New teachers
  • New neighborhood
  • Different available activities
  • Different weather
  • Different food
  • Varied countries and cultures

Moving can have its upsides. You might get to experience cultures other kids don't. Military kids often may be more open-minded to a diverse range of people and aware of cultural differences. This can help you as a leader, as you can understand and communicate with many different people.

You can also learn more about what you like and don't like. New experiences might open your mind to future careers or goals you wouldn't have considered.

But moving can also make it hard to feel rooted. You might struggle to get close to others because you know you'll be saying goodbye. You might hold off from getting emotionally involved. Or you might hold onto a core group of friends or family, forging a closeness and commitment others kids don't get.

Moving means you adapt and overcome too.

Celebrating Military Kids

Military kids are often self-starters, problem solvers, and leaders. These qualities are why, according to the Military Child Education Coalition, the dandelion is considered the official flower of the military child:

Pat Conroy, writing about his experiences as a military child, wrote about the need to "[salute military] children, their fine and resourceful children, who were strangers in every town they entered, thanking them for their extraordinary service to their country, for the sacrifices they made over and over again to the United States of America, to its ideals of freedom, to its preservation and to its everlasting honor."

In 1986, Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger designated each April as "The Month of the Military Child." It is a time to thank military children for their service, recognize their incredible strength, and offer them support in facing their unique challenges.

You serve, and you are mighty.

Wertsch, M. E. (2006). Military brats: Legacies of childhood inside the fortress. St. Louis, MO: Brightwell Publishing.

Going back to school during COVID-19

Back to school is here again, and for most kids, it’s not the normal back-to-school time as you may be used to. Who better than military kids to get through this next chapter with resiliency and creativity? Many unknowns and constant change may still exist, and things will be different for returning to school depending on where you live. It may be in-person, virtual, or a combination of both. Military kids know to focus on what you can control, rather than what you can’t. 

Here are some resources and tips that may be helpful as you get back into the new school year.

Stay active while social distancing

Social distancing doesn’t mean distancing yourself from the outside world. Get fresh air each day and continue to get physical activity. Parks may be closed in some places, but all you need is your two feet to start walking. Physical activity is essential to stay healthy during this time and to stay focused as you start a new school year. While you may not be able to exercise with friends, consider a fun workout online together or participate in a challenge to see who stays the most active each day. Click here for more tips!

Explore out-of-this world fun with NASA STEM

Experience a wide variety of science, math, engineering, and technology ideas for students in kindergarten through college. Click here to explore:

Set your sights on success with

Connect to an expert tutor 24 hours a day, seven days a week on for U.S. Military Families. They provide live, on-demand tutoring, test preparation and homework help in more than 100 subjects, for students in kindergarten through college. During COVID-19, program eligibility has been extended until Sept. 30, 2020, to include any adult or child member of Department of Defense civilian, National Guard, reserve or wounded warrior military families. Click the link on the Military Kids Connect homepage under the “See More” section.

Make learning at home fun

  1. Create a special "homework zone" that's peaceful and fun to be in. Have colorful notebooks, fun pencils, sticky notes, and anything to keep you inspired and motivated.
  2. Keep a routine to help with stress and to stay organized. It’s important to keep a schedule even if you’re learning at home. 
  3. Keep a positive attitude! Your attitude has a huge impact on how you see the world and can help you get through the day. Find at least one thing to be grateful for each day, even if you’re having a bad day. 
  4. Reward yourself! If you’re struggling to get through some homework or a project, set a timer, focus on a task, and have a fun reward once you complete your goal. If you have siblings you can each pick something for the other one so it’s a surprise, and even make a fun competition out of it. 

COVID-19 will continue to bring challenges to all of us, and Military Kids Connect is here to help. Please reach out to us to chat or if you need help finding information, we’re here to help point you in the right direction. You can contact us here on the website or reach out to us on Facebook or Instagram if you need help finding resources. Remember, stay healthy and stay happy!

Try Something New

So…you have a new town, a new house, a new school, maybe you’ve even moved to a totally different time zone, country or climate. Seeing that pretty much everything is new right now, why not reinvent yourself and try something you’ve never done before? Like...playing a new sport, learning a new language, or joining a completely different club that might, or might not have been available at your old school. Sound intimidating? Nah. Think about it-everything you enjoy doing now was, at one point, totally new to you. And, even if you end up not loving this new activity, it’s an opportunity to make new friends.

Revised: Fri, 04/02/2021 - 04:54