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Home : News : Family Programs
Family Programs News
NEWS | July 23, 2009

Sisterhood of the Travelling BDUs

By Master Sgt. Julie Avey California National Guard

SAN DIEGO - Two California teenagers are honoring National Guard parents, who have had to pack up their BDUs and travel to overseas locations or natural disasters at home, in a project they have named "Sisterhood of the Travelling BDUs.”

The goal of the project is to bring military daughters from across California together to share their experiences as military dependents.

Moranda Hern, 17, daughter of Lt. Col. Rick Hern of the 144th Fighter Wing, and Kaylei Deakin, 16, daughter of Maj. Lorren Deakin of the 578th Engineer Battalion, plan to host a Military Girls Conference in Clovis, Calif., from March 12-14, 2010.

They hope 400 teens and 100 female servicemembers will attend the two-day event.

"The conference will bring dependent girls from all [military] units in California together and link them … to share all of their experiences.” Kaylei said.

Moranda and Kaylei hope to help other servicemembers’ daughters by sharing their own experiences.

The girls grew up differently but connected as friends with common experiences, which is what they want to show others through the Sisterhood of the Traveling BDUs project.

"At the conference, we want to connect on a deep level with our sisters by removing the mask and being a teenage girl,” Moranda said.

Their Guard experience is what bonds these two girls. Moranda grew up around the Air Guard, Kaylei grew up with the Army Guard, and that is where the similarities end. Moranda is an only child, and Kaylei is the oldest of three daughters. Moranda has a harder shell, and Kaylei is a bit more sensitive.

They met at a National Guard Bureau symposium in St. Louis last year, and together they realized they had similar experiences as Guard children.

For example, they did not live on a base like other military children, but they still dealt with their fathers leaving on deployments or for natural disasters.

The girls put their thoughts and feelings together and started realizing that they could make a difference in each other’s lives and that they were feeling real emotions. They helped each other grow, get better grades and build each other’s self-esteem.

Once they focused their energy toward building positive experiences as daughters of servicemembers, they found more opportunities.

Last fall, Moranda and Kaylei briefed their Military Girls conference ideas to Brig. Gen. Mary J. Kight, assistant adjutant general of the California National Guard, and Leslie Wade, wife of Maj. Gen. William H. Wade II, the adjutant general of the California Guard.

In April, at The Adjutant General’s Symposium on Family Readiness in Burlingame, Calif., Moranda and Kaylei tugged the audience’s heart strings as they briefed their plans for next year’s conference.

As a part of the brief, they shared their childhood experiences as the daughters of Guardsmen. The girls know all too well how family separation can affect youths. They have struggled in the past with grades and self-image, and they say their experiences were sometimes troubling, but also positive and full of opportunity.

Kaylei has already been awarded the National Teen Leadership Award by the National Teen Leadership Program for spearheading an afterschool club for military children at her high school, and Moranda was honored with the Air National Guard Youth of the Year award.

Now they want to continue making a difference by sharing how being a military child has opened up opportunities for them.

Moranda and Kaylei have many ideas for next year’s Sisterhood of the Traveling BDUs conference. Topics for discussion will include college applications, self-defense, making decisions and setting goals.

After the conference, Moranda and Kaylei said they plan to use social networking tools, such as Facebook, You Tube and Twitter to maintain the bonds they expect to grow at the conference.

They also plan to travel throughout California to interview military daughters for a video production, and they would like to create public service announcements about military children.