CARTHAGE, N.Y. (WWTI) — Moving to new places. Learning new cultures. Making new friends. Starting at a new school. These are all concepts very familiar to children who have parents in the military.
Although many of these children become world travelers at very young ages, thousands live in the North Country with their parents stationed at the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum.
Located just over ten miles away from Fort Drum is the Carthage Central School District, whose 40% of its student population are military children.
“We are a small rural community, but I always say we have the best of both worlds,” Carthage Superintendent Jennifer Premo said. “There’s a real true small community-based feel here in the District, but that has the presence of our military-connected families that bring all sorts of experiences and culture to the District.”
According to Premo, the District has a strong partnership with Fort Drum and provides military family life counseling, child and youth programs, free childcare, tutoring, peer support military support organizations and more.
Carthage also works with other local school districts that are military-involved to share resources and connect communities.
To further celebrate these children, the District held a Military Child Appreciation night, which invited military families and community members. There the 10th Mountain Division Band played celebratory music and the audience heard from four students who shared their experiences being military children.
“I’ve had to move multiple times,” 11th-grade Carthage JRTOC student Rory Kilbride shared. “But when I think of a military child, I think of somebody who has great resiliency, maturity, and open-mindedness.”
“I have encountered many different people and viewpoints in the numerous places I’ve lived,” added Will McIntosh, who is also an 11th-grade JROTC student. “Being a military child has taught me to not let the little things in life, stress me out.”
“Going to a new school every couple of years is a rough transition to make, but there is a bright side,” shared Sebastian Russell. “It’s important to put yourself out there and create new bonds, waiting to transition from station to station.”
“Being a military child, benefits your development as a person, as a child, and as a young adult,” Alejandra Hernandez Rosa explained. “You become versatile, mentally flexible, mature and resilient.”
Following remarks from each student, Colonel Travis McIntosh, the Commander of the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade in the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, addressed the group after being highlighted for his extensive career and accomplishments as an Army Aviation Officer.
However, Colonel McIntosh said his greatest accomplishment is having the title of “Dad” as his two sons Will and Drew, both students in the Carthage Central School District, sat feet away.
“My wife and I have moved 11 times in 20 years,” Col. McIntosh shared. “We have our two children, Will and Drew, and they’ve moved with us.”
McIntosh brought tears to many eyes as he also spoke about his family’s experiences prior and during to his deployment.
“When you are a military parent, you worry about those separations, having a negative impact on how your children are raised,” he said.
But he said these challenges, although difficult, have proven to be strengthening. He thanked the military children of the North Country.
“The military child, our youngest heroes,” Col. McIntosh celebrated.
Addressing the children in the audience, he said, “Your parents are American heroes, but you are the heroes to your parents. Boys and girls, well, we salute you.”