By Sgt. Clara Harty | 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — If you ever talk with Soldiers in an aviation unit, you will quickly realize that everyone has a favorite helicopter. This includes Sgt. 1st Class John Stefanik, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter repairer with 404th Aviation Support Battalion, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, and his 9-year-old son, Aiden. During April, the Army aims to show its support and appreciation for military kids, like Aiden, by showing them what Soldiers do.
“My favorite part about coming here is that I get to see the helicopters and see inside of them,” said Aiden. “My favorite helicopter is the one behind me — the Chinook.”
Stefanik said bringing his son to work with him doesn’t just help Aiden, but it also shows his Soldiers he has a life outside of work where he is a father and a role model, which go hand-in-hand.
“I think the benefit is that he gets to see what actually goes on behind the scenes and the things I deal with at work,” said Stefanik. “It gives him a better understanding when I explain to him what I was doing at work, and it shows the Soldiers that I’m not just a platoon sergeant and supervisor.”
The importance of highlighting military kids is to note the children’s struggles as well, said Stefanik. It’s not as noticeable with kids as with Soldiers — they can’t speak up with their parents being gone if they’re deployed.
Right after Aiden was born, Stefanik said he spent a long time supporting the secretary of the Army and the chief of staff of the Army and then moved to Korea, where he lived without his family for a year. However, his family was able to stay with him in Korea for three months before being apart again for multiple months.
“It’s not as easy as people would think,” said Stefanik. “It’s tough not to be there and help raise your child. It makes it tough especially on the spouse. She’s raising our son effectively by herself ,and that’s tough on everybody.”
Plenty of Families in the military go through similar, if not the same, situations, and yet these Families never cease to encourage and support their service members. The Month of the Military Child is at least one way the Army can show its appreciation and thanks.
“Growing up, everyone in uniform was daddy’s buddy,” said Stefanik. “Whether they be Marine Corps, Air Force or anyone in uniform, I think it’s really important that he shows that respect and that kindness. I’d really just like to thank my son for being there and loving what I do.”