The challenges of transition can be different for each member of the family. New education standards and how their child will fit in can be concerning for parents, while the child can be concerned about making new friends, sports, classes, and more.
“The service member has a new job, a direction, a plan,” explained Brittany Boccher, an Air Force spouse, mother, and 2017 AFI Military Spouse of the Year. “The rest of the family doesn’t have those things from the start. We need to get involved in the community and find our ‘why,’ our purpose.”
Brittany and her family move on average every three years, but many times sooner. “Being a mom and a spouse is challenging because I spend a lot of time single parenting from circumstance. I have to explain to my kids why one parent is gone and deal with those emotions,” shared Brittany. “It’s a bit of a struggle.”
Just recently, Brittany and her husband had to explain to their daughter Harper that she was born in Texas, moved to California, then back to Texas, back to California, to Arkansas, and now on their way to Washington, D.C. Harper is only five years old and is already struggling with the idea of leaving teachers and friends. “I have to explain to her the opportunities she is going to have. It’s something I didn’t think would start this early,” shared Brittany. “As a parent, the continuity of education is a concern. We want her to stay on the same playing field and not be too far ahead or too far behind.” Fortunately, Harper “doesn’t meet a stranger” and develops relationships quickly. “She doesn’t realize that she’s already shown us how well she adapts.”
Brittany also has a two-year-old son, Blake, who, as she likes to say, “Is rocking an extra set of chromosomes.” Or what most people know as Down Syndrome. In Arkansas, Blake would not go into public school until six years old, spending his years until that age in a developmental day school. However, when they move next month, he will not have that option and will have to go into the public school system at two and a half years old. “It’s the biggest fear for me as a parent,” shared Brittany. “Is he going to have that continuity? Is he going to have the resources he needs to be successful?” she continued. “We’re concerned, but we know it’s something we have to do as a military family.”
On top of raising her family, Brittany is a business owner, avid volunteer, and currently holds the title of 2017 AFI Military Spouse of the Year. “It is a privilege, an honor, and humbling to know my fellow spouses believe I can do a good job in representing them,” shared Brittany. “I don’t take that lightly.”
Resources are crucial to the success of transition for the Boccher family and many families. The Military Child Education Coalition, Easter Seals, National Down Syndrome Association, school districts and their early childhood development programs, and School Liaison Officers are a few places Brittany has looked to for guidance. She recommends to all families challenged with transition to become a part of their community and look for resources within it.