Their names were called one by one, though this was no ordinary roll call. At Green Run Elementary School’s third annual Month of the Military Child celebration, students and staff were recognizing special honorees.
“We have 85 students in our school who are military-connected,” said Rebecca Pierre-Louis, school counselor. “That’s a pretty big chunk of our student body. So, we want them to know that they are supported.”
April is the Month of the Military Child. It was established by former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger in 1986 to underscore the important role children play in the Armed Forces community.
The celebration’s guest speaker told students he had a lot in common with them.
“Just like you, I grew up right here in Virginia Beach,” said Captain Chad Vincelette, executive officer, Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana. “I used to look up when the old F-14s flew by and say that I was going to fly one of those, and I did.”
Vincellette shared that his father was in the Navy and he knows what it’s like to have a parent deployed for months.
“I’m proud of you and how brave you are. To keep your focus while a parent, sometimes both parents are gone, is commendable. And to you parents who are left behind, I salute you for the job that you do.”
And though a lot of military-connected students face separation from a parent, they appreciate the service.
Carissa Volmer, a fifth-grade student, says that she wants to follow in her father’s footsteps.
“My father and step-mom are both in the Navy. I’m proud of my dad because he’s a master chief and he got really far. I want to work in the Navy like he did.”
Second-grade student Isa Martinez admires her father and an aunt who serves.
“My dad and aunt are in the military. Dad’s in the Navy and my aunt is in the Air Force. I’m proud of my aunt. She’s very supportive of her coworkers and she’s very helpful at work. I’m proud of my dad because he has worked in the Navy for 18 years.
The students received certificates as a reminder that the entire school stands behind them.
“We know that it’s difficult having one, perhaps two parents, deployed or on-duty and fulfilling different obligations to the military that could pull them out for days or weeks or months on end,” said Pierre-Louis. “We just want them to know they have that support here at school from our entire staff.”