April is the “Month of the Military Child,” and here at the Purple Heart Foundation we wanted to learn about, understand, and share what it is like to grow up as a military child. Although no two experiences are quite the same, each child growing up in a military family must deal with a certain level of hardship and unique difficulties in order for their parent/parents to bravely serve this country. We had the opportunity to interview Curtis Cruz and learn more about his unique experience growing up as a military child.
Curtis, 28, spent the first part of his life growing up on the island of Guam. This was one of a few places where Curtis spent his childhood and teenage years. He moved when his father, who bravely served for twenty-four years in the United States Army, received new assignments. Curtis is not only a military child, but he now proudly serves our country in the United States Air Force as a Staff Sergeant. He is a laboratory technician at the Dover Air Base in Dover, Delaware.
Curtis shed a light on what it was like to grow up with a parent in the military.
“Growing up in the military was a very unique yet challenging experience. I moved a total of 5 times up to the age of 18. It was difficult to continuously make and have to leave old friends, start over again, and make new friends. I’m very grateful for it though because I’ve met some great people along the way that have turned into long lasting friendships. I’ve met people from different races, cultures, and countries.”
He explained that though it was tough at times, being a part of a military family allowed for a unique opportunity to travel and experience places that many people, especially children, don’t usually get to. For example, Curtis moved to Germany at the age 15 and spent his high school years there, giving him an opportunity to see different places all across Europe. One thing in particular Curtis wanted to share with us was his experience attending high school in Germany.
“The high school was very small so everybody knew each other. I had a strong friendship with 4 guys who all happen to be in the military now as well. We all became best friends and even 10 years after graduating (in 2008) we all still meet up with each other.”
We were curious, so we asked if growing up with his father in the military ultimately influenced Curtis to join himself. Curtis’ grandfather served in the US Air Force, and though Curtis’ father served in the US Army, he felt as though the Air Force would be a great fit for Curtis. “He spoke very highly of [the Air Force]…. When I was a senior in high school, he had me talk to a recruiter to discuss everything and see how the Air Force would be beneficial for me”
Though much of his life has revolved around our country’s military, Curtis has also found time and become extremely passionate about the fitness industry. In fact, he is a competitive bodybuilder. When he is not in uniform you can more than likely find him lifting heavy weight, sweating on the stair-master, or meal prepping.
As we neared the end of our interview with Curtis we asked him what was one piece of advice he would want to give to other kids growing up with either one or both parents in the military.
“My piece of advice would be to stay open minded. It can be difficult being a child in a military family due to constantly moving. I would tell them to cherish every experience and welcome it all. When I was a kid going through the same thing, I was upset at times. But looking back on it all now I’m eternally grateful for all the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had.”
The Purple Heart Foundation is so grateful for Curtis, his family, and all of our military families’ dedication to our country. It is no easy task serving in our military just as it is no easy task being in a military family and having to make sacrifices that may not be your own choice. We are committed to honoring ALL of our heroes and their families. You can help make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for all of our men and women in uniform. Show your support for them and their families by making a one-time or monthly pledge to make sure they continue to receive the support and benefits that they deserve.