Homeless Children of Military Veterans… My experience as a former military child who became homeless… by Jenny Green

Please support my mission of helping families who suffer from PTSD and moral injury…order my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story.  Click and order paperback or download Kindle version.  Buy my book at Barnes & Noble as well… Thank you! Steve Sparks, Author
Jenny Green at age 9 as a military child…
Jenny Green college graduate…
Jenny Green at work ODFW
jenny.osu.oregon@gmail

Homeless Military Children  Quote from this website article by BEST PRACTICES IN INTER-AGENCY COLLABORATION… Supporting School Success for… Homeless Children 
of Veterans and Active Duty Military Members
“Over the course of the 2009-2010 school year,
school districts across the country identified nearly
one million children and youth experiencing
homelessness, including some whose parents are
active duty members of the military.”

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I am honored and delighted to introduce Jenny Green, a former military brat who survived and is thriving today as a young adult.  Jenny found herself in a horrific circumstance at age 10 following her return to the US from her father’s military duty station in Germany.  Jenny is a graduate of Oregon State University with a BS in Fish and Wildlife Sciences.  For eight months of the year she works for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Port Sampler, at the Port of Depoe Bay, Oregon.  At the same time she is also employed as the science and technology teacher at Neighbors for Kids (NFK) in Depoe Bay, Oregon.   Jenny is an outstanding member and contributor of NFK’s “Kids Zone” signature after-school program.  Jenny cares deeply for the kids and the community we serve.  She also has a passion for teaching science and technology to help children prepare for a future in the 21st Century.

Jenny and I have much in common.  We are both military brats who survived toxic circumstances during our childhood years.  We both have parents who served in severe combat and suffered from the symptoms of PTSD. We were both affected by the toxic circumstances of growing up in homes that lived and coped with PTSD and moral injury from traumatic life events.  We are both passionate about education and making a difference for kids in our community, working on behalf of the mission of Neighbors for Kids.  Jenny is my dear friend and hero who works everyday helping kids discover the endless possibilities and opportunities in life as they grow into healthy, happy, and productive adults…  Following is Jenny Green’s story of surviving and thriving…in life after trauma…  


Steve Sparks

Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…

Homeless Children of Military Veterans… My experience as a former military child who became homeless… by Jenny Green

Close to a year ago, little did I know that I would befriend someone who shares somewhat similar experiences from childhood as me.  Although these experiences are generations apart, they are rooted from the same source…both our fathers experienced PTSD from war.  My friend Steve’s father suffered PTSD from WWII and Korean War, while my father suffers PTSD from Vietnam. I am glad I am friends with Steve; he helped me to realize that I am not the only one out there with effects from a family members fight with this dilemma. Now I know that I am not my own little island in the sea of humanity, there are many of us islands.
I was fortunate enough as a child to live in Italy and Germany as a military brat. Dad was active duty and a Vietnam vet with USMC and later enlisted with the U.S. Army. What I didn’t realize then, was that he had PTSD. When he would yell, scream, and smack me around I thought it was normal, in fact, to me it was a simple fact of life. What I also didn’t realize, was how my Dad’s PTSD affected my Mom as well. She would go to work early, come home late, and work many weekends for the Stars and Strips Newspaper; staying away from Dad as much as possible. I did not know my mother, and she did not know me, and the only thing I knew of my Dad was the abuse and anger he had towards me.
That was my life ’till I was almost 10 years old, then the apple cart was turned upside down, we moved back from overseas.  Dad divorced Mom about a year and a half after we returned leaving us in southern Indiana, and Dad left for good to Michigan. Once Mom realized he was never coming back, the monster she had harbored came out with a vengeance, secondary PTSD.
When Dad left, I was lucky enough to be at my Grandmother’s house, as she took us in for six months. Mom slept 14 to 18 hours a day, only getting up to go to use the bathroom, and then back to bed to either sleep or lie there and cry. Finally my Grandmother had enough of us being in her house and forced my Mom and I out, leaving us at a public housing office. After a few nights in a shelter, we were placed in a small public housing apartment called, “White Court” in New Albany, In.
I thought this move was going to help give my Mom momentum with having a fresh start; indeed this was not the case, her PTSD got worse. I had to wear the same pair of socks for 8 months; they smelled like ammonia, were caked with filth and were literally plastered to my feet. When I had shoes, I walked out of them at the toes and wear them for months in that condition. My jeans and t-shirt were stained with wearing them for weeks straight day and night, as I did not have night pajamas. There was no washer and dryer, no laundry mat in walking distance, and she would not buy soap or a bucket to wash clothes.                                
There was never any food in the house, and if there was something in the fridge it was usually what someone was tossing out because it was spoiling. I was at least lucky to have free lunch from my elementary school, so I knew I could have a meal once a day during the school year. I relied on that food, as it was literally all I had in my life. I hated summers because I would miss out on the lunches from school and would scrap together meager meals of stale hamburger buns and souring bologna, bologna so soured that there was a white pasty film on it that I would scrap off.
It was during one of these summers when I was 12 about to be 13 and had to attend summer school, that Mom closed the door to me. It was my last day of elementary school, when I got home all the doors and windows were locked and Mom was not answering. I sat on the porch till 10pm wondering what had happened, asking neighbors if they had seen anyone at the apartment, nothing. I went to a 5th grade friend’s house, but her family did not want anything to do with stained clothed, ammonia smelling kid; they told me to leave and not return.
 Under the glow of the dim street light I slept on the porch that night.  The next morning I walked downtown to the amphitheater next to the Ohio River. I would sleep in and around this amphitheater for the next three months. Summer school did not serve lunch, so at night for food I would dig in the dumpsters of the local restaurants after they had closed. I remember eating half eaten fried chicken legs, macaroni salad with my fingers, licking pie filling off of paper plates, and using old napkins with lipstick stains smeared on them.

 I remember being afraid to sleep outside at night; so I would walk around town, watch the trains, or sit and listen to the coal barges and tugs going up and down the Ohio River till dawn. I was also afraid of the local law enforcement, as I was scared of getting in trouble for being homeless and filthy. I did not know at the time that they would actually have helped me. I kept going home every other day and knocking on the door and no one ever answered, even though I could see the mail was picked up and curtains were moved.
The day 7th grade started, again I went back home and knocked on the door. To my surprise my mom answered the door. Dark circles under her eyes, dirty clothes, and matted hair is how she greeted me. I asked where she had been, and all she could say was that she had been busy. I told her 7th grade started today and I need her to go register me for school at the junior high, she agreed and we walked to school. I walk in the office with the same jeans, t-shirt, socks, and shoes I had been wearing for four months since the end of April, as people are staring at us I get registered for school and receive my class schedule. 
Second period was pre-algebra, and I hated math but I did not know that my life was about to change. I met my best friend Tracy, she didn’t care what I looked like or smelled like. In fact, later in the school year her Mom and Dad invited me over to their house as often as I wanted. They fed me, washed my clothes, and let me shower. By 8th grade I was living in their house. Mom still had custody of me but she allowed for my move. I was in their household ’till just after high school graduation with a 3.75 GPA, college bound, clean clothes and good food. 

Someone had finally given me a chance to survive, and I thrived…

                              *****
       Note:  I invited Jenny to write for this blog, including follow-up stories about military family life, the plight of homeless military kids, and other topics related to surviving and thriving in her years since graduating from college.  I am very grateful for Jenny’s passion and interest in making a difference for others by contributing to the cause of PTSD & moral injury awareness… Jenny can be contacted by email, jenny.osu.oregon@gmail

Steve Sparks

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