In 1986, Secretary of Defense Casper W. Weinberger decided the sacrifices made by children of military service members deserved special recognition. Throughout April, Mt. Carmel joins the nation in celebrating Month of the Military Child.
As part of our celebration we sat down with Mt. Carmel team member Katie Travis: proud, successful and resilient daughter to retired Army Special Forces Soldier Rory and Tina Travis.
When Katie was 16, Fort Carson became her father’s final Army assignment following a distinguished career. Katie was thrilled to finally have one final place to call home as active-duty service members typically relocate school-age children six to nine times during a career, in addition to family separations related to training and deployments.
“The constant moves the Army required during my childhood were upsetting and unsettling. In hindsight, they made me more culturally-aware as a result,” said Katie. “Our family was continually introduced to new people, cultures and community norms. I used to resent the Army for taking me away from my family and friends. But I grew to appreciate that it afforded me a more extensive worldview.”
Prior to 9/11, Katie’s father deployed often, but rarely with a sense of worry by his children. “My parents protected my sisters and I from the realities of his career. That changed after 9/11,” said Katie. “It was lonely; Dad was gone for months-long, year-long (and longer) combat deployments.”
The protective childhood bubble she had imagined her Dad’s Army travels would burst as pre-teen Katie gained awareness of Rory’s efforts in America’s longest war.
“My mom, sisters and I were hopeful and grateful for the occasional email, voice mail or phone call from him to say, ‘I’m safe’. The tree, the turkey, the decorations, birthday candles and presents, were always less important in comparison,” said Katie.
Today, Katie’s dad is long-retired and manages the resiliency program at Fort Carson and Katie is in her senior year at CSU-Pueblo. She credits her upbringing and her dad’s current role for influencing her plan to become a social worker.
“Mom and Dad raised me and my sisters to be independent, hardworking and to conduct ourselves with self-confidence and a winning mindset,” said Katie. “I don’t expect things to be handed to me; I work hard for me, for Mt. Carmel and for our clients.”
Today, as a Mt. Carmel Supportive Services case manager, Katie helps clients with a hand-up, often on their worst day.
“I can relate to arriving in a community without a personal network and being far from family. My goal, and that of Mt. Carmel, is to never to be the hand-out, but the hand-up: to provide resources and tools to recover and thrive. My upbringing aligns perfectly – I’m able to mentor clients towards self-empowerment to reverse a negative spiral,” said Katie.
An insider with common understanding of the military and veteran lifestyle gives Katie immediate credibility with clients as she assesses their urgency of need and finds resources to help.
“I’m proud to manage assistance for 40-70 veterans and families at any given time; and proud of the crucial hand-up my team has provided more than 900 clients experiencing various personal crisis,” said Katie.