22 years, 7 cross-country moves: Military family describe transition, toll of relocating for service

At least 400,000 report to a new duty station each year and their families are along for the ride.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new school year often means new routines, new teachers, and new friends. But for children with parents in the military, it can also mean a new home. Summer is the peak moving season for service members.

Robin Keller works for the USO of Greater Jacksonville at NAS Jacksonville.

“It’s been wonderful,” said Keller. “It fills my heart when I can give back and I see a family member who really has benefited from our programs.”

Keller and her husband were both in the military. She served 22 years in the US Navy and moved at least 7 times.

“With a family, especially with two active-duty service members and as a spouse, usually it’s left to one person in the family, one of the adults and they have to sell the house, find a new place to live, find daycare if you need that and not knowing anybody is stressful,” explained Keller.

Keller said it can also be hard on the kids.

“They’re really resilient, they become really resilient but you know you’re taking them away from really good friends and putting them again where they don’t know anybody and having to make new friends and find their way,” said Keller.

To help during the transition of a move, organizations like the USO offer a variety of different programs to support military members and their families, including; The Healthy Families Initiative providing fresh groceries and No Dough Dinners where families not only get a meal but an opportunity to bond with other families.

“Having these resources available to them is a great help for every family,” said Megan DeGance, USO Fields Program Specialist.

Keller said these types of programs help relieve stress and make a difference for those serving our country and their loved ones.

Several schools in Duval County also offer programs to welcome new military students and help them feel comfortable in their new school.

For children with parents in the military, a new school year often means a new home. As News4Jax reporter Jennifer Ready shows us, this is a reality for many families in our area.

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