The United States has been at war for more than a decade and the men and women that protect our country overseas are not the only people making sacrifices. Tens of thousands of children have watched as their parents get deployed into dangerous conflict zones and have been dealing with the reality that they may never come back or that they may return as someone different.
Host Frank Stasio talks with the host of WAMU's radio documentary series, Breaking Ground, Kavitha Cardoza about her latest episode in the series, Military Children. The documentary will air on North Carolina Public Radio/WUNC Tuesday at 9 p.m and features families from Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Here's how the program's producers (WAMU 88.5 in Washington, DC) describe the show:
We’ve all seen the photo: A soldier in fatigues stoops down to hug his child one last time before heading off to a war zone.
We may have an idea of what comes next for the soldier. Rarely do we discuss what’s next for the child.
Nearly 2 million children have parents currently serving in the military, and that number doubles when you include the children of veterans post 9/11. They’ve had to say goodbye to their parents multiple times during what has been the largest sustained deployment in the history of our all-volunteer force. These young people live in every zip code of this country and on military bases across the globe. And yet their everyday lives are mostly invisible to the rest of us.
How are these children affected by their parents’ struggles to readjust to civilian life? What can we learn from their resiliency? And what is our duty to these children who sacrifice so much?
Explore the story and its interactive components here.
The program is reported by Kavitha Cardoza, and the project dates back to the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
As commemorations approached in 2011, she wondered how military children viewed the event, and she asked the Department of Defense (DOD) for permission to speak to students at a DOD middle school in Quantico, Virginia. Difficulties ensued. After two months of negotiations, Cardoza was finally allowed into the school, under the watchful eye of a public relations liaison. Afterward, Cardoza says, the PR officer told her, “Any time you want to do anything on military education or kids, I will totally recommend it and give you total access.” Last November, Cardoza was finally to accept that offer and begin researching an in-depth story.
“If you Google military children, you don’t get a lot. That’s one reason I knew I was on to something,” says Cardoza. “There was a lot of academic literature; the Brookings Institution and Princeton had come out with an academic volume, which was very, very dense, not bedtime reading, but it became my bedtime reading.”
She also researched the military’s budget for education and read stacks of reports, learning an alphabet soup of acronyms in dealing with military sources. Access was not always easy, Cardoza says. “Everyone is very wary: ‘Well, what’s your angle?’ ‘Well, I don’t know what the angle is until I report.’”
Model For Early Education: About 45,000 Marines are stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. and most of them are between 18 and 25 years old. And where there are lots of young Marines, there are lots of babies. The care of these young children has evolved over the years.
In an exploration of the Department of Defense Schools, the reporter visits Irwin Intermediate, an elementary school in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The program also explores the topic of the pressures on military children who attend public schools, and children who have had a parent wounded or killed in action.
Breaking Ground with Kavitha Cardoza is a documentary series "dedicated to making the invisible visible by uncovering the stories you won't hear anywhere else."