Fundraiser Honors Unique Lives of Military Children
Military spouse Roxy Rochford likes to remind her three kids that they, like their father, have sacrificed for their country.
“I feel my kids have served because they helped their father serve,” the Rockledge resident said. “Their father enlisted, but the rest of us were drafted.”
Children crave security, yet the world of military children is in constant flux. These kids must learn to adjust and thrive as their families move around the globe following their dads or moms, or, in some cases, both parents. Extended family is rarely nearby. These kids worry if their parents are safe. Schools, friends and homes are constantly changing.
Sacrifices are part of being a military family. Dan Rochford didn’t see his first child, Nelly, until she was 2 months old. Nelly and her siblings, Andrew and Bella, would not see their father for six months at a time while he was deployed.
Although not technically “military brats,” children of Department of Defense employees are also masters of adaptation.
“We share such a unique bond,” said Cathy Cox, one of the organizers for Indian River Colony Club’s celebration of military children.
Cox attended 11 schools in 12 years as her father, an Air Force vet, worked on DOD assignments around the globe. When she graduated high school in the Philippines, Cox did not see her father in the audience because he had been sent to Washington on assignment.
“They transferred us just like they did the military, because our parents support the missions of the active military,” she said.
Image: Dan Rochford — with wife, Roxy and children Bella, Andrew and Nelly —retired after 30 years serving in the Navy.
April, the official Month of the Military Child, will see events honoring the pluckiness of these hardy kids.
AVET Project is hosting a celebration and fundraising dinner in honor of military children from 5-8 p.m., Saturday, April 1, at Cocoa Beach Country Club, 5000 Tom Warriner Blvd. AVET founder Garren Cone, a war-time disabled Air Force veteran, grew up in a military family.
The event features kid-friendly activities and inspirational presentations, capped by a dinner to which the entire community is invited. Attendees are encouraged to wear purple, a color that the Military Child Education Coalition has designated as the official color of the military child because it encompasses the colors of each of the branches of service.
The Coalition, which advocates on behalf of military-connected children, compares military kids to the hardy dandelion — carefree plants that thrive anywhere, survivors that put down roots wherever the wind carries them.
According to the Coalition, military children are masters of flexibility and know that when one door closes, another opens with a totally different set of opportunities. They develop a strong sense of family early.
“We kept each other sane,” Rochford said about the 30 years in which family life revolved around Dan’s service on Navy ships and subs.
Rochford’s friend, Brenda Scalzo, remembers moving every few years while husband, Jim, served a 35-year career aboard Navy submarines.
“It wasn’t too bad for the kids when they were little because they adapted, but as they grew up, it got harder,” said Scalzo, of Melbourne. “We told them they needed to be each other’s friend.”
Now 23 and 20, Abigail and Aiden have no interest in joining the military. It’s not surprising, Scalzo said.
“They have served already,” she said.
Image: Abigail and Aiden Scalzo wave to the submarine bringing their dad, Jim Scalzo, home from deployment.
Month of the Military Child Fundraiser
When: 5-8 p.m., Saturday, April 1
Where: Cocoa Beach Country Club, 5000 Tom Warriner Blvd.
Cost: Free for youth 17 and under when accompanied by an adult and $25 for adults
Information and reservations: avet-project.org
What to expect:
Photo booths, STEM projects, games, DJ and dancing, food
Guest speakers include:
- Invocation by Pastor Troy Stanley of First Christian Church, Cocoa Beach
- Brevard County Sheriff’s Office & Police Explorers
- Dr. Kristin Wallace (psychologist)
- Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski (science STEM teacher)
- Sea Cadets
- Navy Federal Credit Union
Several children will be performing, as well:
- Ella Grace Helton will sing the national anthem.
- Marie Arispe (military child) will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
- DJ C Money (Christian Lape, also a military child) will play kid friendly music.
Additional Community Fundraising:
On April 15, the Brevard County Texas Roadhouse locations in Viera, Melbourne and Palm Bay will be raising funds during lunch hours only to support Month of the Military Child. Bring a copy or show from your phone the Texas Roadhouse flier and AVET will receive 10% of sales between 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Also on April 15, Space Coast Cars & Coffee will be hosting a car show with proceeds benefiting Month of the Military Child.
About AVET Project
An all-volunteer nonprofit, AVET Project provides basic information on how military families can access VA benefits. Founder Garren Cone is a VA accredited claims agent who can legally represent military families before the VA.
AVET Project has sponsored fishing clinics that also teach environmental and STEAM/STEM lessons. On Veterans Day 2022, AVET Project hosted military families at the AVET Project Recuperation and Reintegration.
By the Numbers
67,620: Veterans living in Brevard
— 2021 Census
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