Month of the Military Child: Greg Johnson, Professional Development Lead, Education & Training Specialist

April is the Month of the Military Child and we want to recognize the resilience of the children and youth of our service members. We’re proud to offer support to our military children’s educators to help create and sustain inclusive practices for all.

We would also like to share a personal KIT Spotlight on Greg Johnson, our very own Professional Development Lead, Education & Training Specialist.

Greg earned an AA in Elementary Physical Education with an endorsement in Adaptive Education, BS in the Psychology of Human Development, and an MS in Sports Management and Administration. He taught special education for eight years and worked with children with disabilities for 15 years. He previously served as the Administrative Behavior Coordinator for a school district in Washington state and was the Supervisory Program Specialist for the middle school teen program at Joint Base Lewis McChord.

“Inclusion is the limitless acceptance and participation of everyone!”

Words from GregGreg Johnson, KIT's Professional Development Lead, Education & Training Specialist

My name is Greg Johnson and I was (or ‘am’) a military child. Brat is what we were called. I guess once one, always one, because the places you go, the people you meet, the things you learn, and the skills you build will always be a part of you. My brother and I were born at Seymour Johnson AFB in Goldsboro, NC. Both our parents were active-duty Air Force. Like most military families, we moved about every two to four years. From birth to high school, I lived in eight states, went to five high schools and countless other schools. Throughout my life I’ve had the opportunity to visit and live in interesting places in the United States and other countries, as well as meet many diverse people and experience different cultures.

With all the highs in my life came the lows. The military child has to endure many obstacles that civilian children may never encounter. From PCSing (Permanent Change of Station), deployments, and TDYs (Temporary Duty) to living away from family, and being subject to potentially experiencing the extremely high separation and divorce rates.

“I learned that adaptability is a way of life and resilience keeps you moving forward.”

As a kid, I didn’t know these were skills I was learning. I was just living life and since the majority of the people I knew lived the same way, well, it was the norm. I was okay with being the new kid, because I was always the new kid, even if it was only for one day – because there had to be another military kid around. I grew up thinking it was okay to make a friend and know you may never speak to them again when you move, or even better, just not really connecting with anyone and keeping relationships surface level because I’d be leaving soon. I was fortunate my parents involved me in sports and that’s how I met new people and got to socialize. I could go on and on about the different aspects of my childhood and how they affected me as an adult.

Fast forward to 2002 when I started teaching at a high school that funneled military kids. I say funneled because that’s how it feels. You come to a place knowing eventually you will be exiting. Those kids were so easy to pick out of a crowd. I would play a game with my co-workers and guess who might be a military kid. I usually won because they had the same look I had when I first got to a school; bewildered, worried about how to fit in because the kids in that state talk and dress differently than the kids in another.

“My accent doesn’t fit in and it’s apparent from the first conversation.”

Now it’s 2008 and I’m working for the Army in the Middle School Teen program, and this feels like home. I know what these kids are going through and now I get to work directly with them and let them know that they’ll make it, even when it seems like the world is crumbling around them. The resiliency skill you build every time a parent leaves, you can’t make your cousins birthday, or just miss your grandparents, will help you manage the next difficult situation. Your adaptability skills will help you when the news that it’s time to move again and leave your school, neighborhood, and friends is dropped on you like a military ordnance (bomb). I hope my personal experiences as a military child can comfort you enough for you to believe me when I say, “You will be okay and come out stronger!”

Now it’s 2015 and I’m working with an organization that provides professional development for the staff working with the all-important military child. KIT helps the adults like me give these children and youth the skills to manage their topsy turvy life filled with drama and trauma. Not only can I relate to the military child, but I can assist those adults in understanding why a healthy and meaningful relationship is important to these children. I was once that child who made it through PCS’s, TDY’s, divorce and who’s vacations were always just going home to see family. Every time I’m in a program I look at those children and youth and I get it. Times have changed, but the struggle is the same and I’m here to help.

I want to recognize the MILITARY CHILD this month and every month. I SEE YOU! I AM YOU!