JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —
The Month of the Military Child began in the 1980s. Its color theme is purple, which symbolizes a combination of all military branches: Army, green; Air Force, blue, Coast Guard, blue; Marine, red; and Navy, blue.
“I see the significance of supporting and honoring our military kids because they do serve right along with us,” said Senior Master Sgt. Gina Lares, who has served in the Air Force for more than 26 years. “I always see pain in their eyes when we have to go away, so they have to grow up a little bit differently. I think when they understand why we do this, it helps ease that sadness during the times we have to go away for a little while or when we are not able to be at home with them as much as we would like.”
Giuliana is the younger of Lares’ two daughters and is in the third grade at Lackland Elementary School.
Lares understands well the sacrifices military children must make. Her own father retired from the Air Force and inspired her to join the same branch. She said her parents taught her to be independent and to work hard, and she wanted to pass on a similar parenting legacy to her children. Her oldest daughter, Giselle, has already reached adulthood, and Lares couldn’t be more proud.
“She’s told me that she’s learned a lot from me.” Lares said. “She takes care of herself and is a hard worker. I mean she never misses work, and she’s worked at the same place for six years. I know that work ethic and that responsibility is part of my influence, and I only hope I inspire Giuliana like that and teach her the same things.”
Lares noted that there is a significant age gap between her two daughters, which has helped her refine her parenting skills over the years. During much of her elder daughter’s upbringing, she was a single parent.
Fortunately for Lares, she had a supportive family to help her shoulder the load.
“Taking care of your children is more challenging when you don’t have the spouse at home who can pick up the other half of the parenting responsibilities, but I was blessed with an amazing father who understood my military life and a wonderful mother and sister who were always there at a moment’s notice. I knew I never had to worry because they always had my back.”
Giuliana said she is proud of her mother’s military service and is thankful she is “never too tired to make her dinner and play indoor volleyball with her before bedtime.”
Hearing that means a lot to Lares, who does her best to be the mom Giuliana needs.
“With Giuliana, I have a little more time with her than I did with my oldest,” Lares said. “As anyone in the military knows, you struggle with having to go out of town, traveling, going to school, working long hours, and you have to find that balance between being a great airman and leader at work and also being a great mom and doing what you need to do for your family.”
Giuliana said she is enjoying the various activities the school has been hosting for the monthly observance. That morning, family and friends had lined the hallways of Giuliana’s school wearing purple and celebrated their children by high-fiving them as they walked to their classrooms.
But other than the unique sacrifices military children make, Giuliana is your typical grade-schooler. She enjoys playing with her friends and hanging out with her family. Her special interests involve art club, tae kwon do, social studies and sowing club. She said she especially loves when her mom makes her favorites: chopped steak burgers or spaghetti.