Dear Salvation Army, Officer’s Kids…

I am an Officer’s kid.  For those who have no idea what I am talking about, let me explain.
No, my parents weren’t in the military.  My parents were/are Salvation Army Officers.
Being an Officer’s kid is a lot like being a Pastor’s kid.
Being an Officer’s kid is also nothing like being a Pastor’s kid.
Is that as clear as mud?  Good.

Backing up,
I am an Officer’s kid…
So was my father and mother.
So were my Grandparents.
My Great-grand parents were the first in our family to join the ranks of this fledgling army here in the United States.

Being an Officer’s kid is a unique thing.
People expect more from you.
People expect you to act a certain way.
People expect you to be more mature than the rest of the kids your age.
In short, the expectations for Officer’s kids are unfair and perhaps the bar is set too high.

There is also the running joke that if one marries into the army and also has family in the army that a blood test is required to ensure your soon to be bride is not related.  Seriously, sometimes the life of an Officer’s kid can become solely an “army” bubble…and that, in my opinion, is not always healthy.
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Back to Officer’s kids and expectations…
I recall meeting many officers kids while living with my parents growing up.  We moved to various locations including South Africa, St. Helena and places in the central states of the U.S.  I have met some very straight-laced Officer kids, who in turn grew up to also become Officers themselves, and I have met some rebel Officer kids who pushed back at every turn.

Are the expectations of Officer kids fair?  In short, I believe that the answer is a resounding “No“!
Do these expectations of Officer’s kids sometimes lead to them wanting nothing to do with the Army when they grow up?  In short, I believe that the answer is a resounding “Yes“!
Other times, and I have witnessed this, Officer’s kids have seen how the Army and its leadership has treated their parents and because of those seemingly unholy moments, they have walked away from this movement.
Could we use a little more compassion in our Army?  Yes.
More understanding?  Yes.
The ability to understand the hectic lives of Officers who have young children in their homes?  Yes, yes, yes!

One might contend that Officers know what they are getting into when they sign their covenant…but did their children sign it too?  Do they tag along during the kettle season?  Do they help out, sometimes as the best and only volunteer on Sunday mornings?  Do they go where their parents tell them to go?  Many these Officer kids have unknowingly signed the covenant of officership too.

It is the nature of this organization.
There will be cause and effect.
A ripple here might become a wave on the other side…

How might we improve the lives of Officer’s Kids?
Does this responsibility fall squarely on the parents?
Does the corps, does DHQ, THQ, IHQ have a role in this as well?
What of the many who have left the army following reaching adulthood?  Is there something to learn from those experiences?

This isn’t some sort of “Woe is me” edition of Pastorsponderings, this is just me hoping to teach my kids the importance of being their own individual and walk their own spiritual path.  I’m not saying I didn’t or am not right now…because I have.  How can we improve this ever changing facet of Officer families for the better?  Are we making strides today?  Yes I believe we are.  Is there more work to be done in this sometimes forgotten aspect of “Army life”?  Yes I believe there is.

Honestly, I haven’t arrived at a conclusion on this today.
I am simply pondering the nature and nurture of Officer Kids.
I understand them.
I was one.
I sympathize.
I know that there are also perks, privileges and opportunities.

Honestly, I would like to hear from you.  What do you make of Officer Kids?
Were/Are you one?  Are you a Pastor’s kid…you can somewhat relate too.
How about a missionary kid?  You fit this mold to some extend too.
From the outside looking in – Soldiers and friends, how do you see Officer’s kids?

Something more to ponder in our Army world today.


29 thoughts on “Dear Salvation Army, Officer’s Kids…

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  1. I enjoyed this because I really can relate to what you have written. I did resent having higher expectations than other children. I often thought it was unfair & judged more harshly when I made a mistake that my peers had also made,

    Don’t misunderstand, I did some incredibly stupid things as a kid, that embarrassed my parents & were not conducive with how they raised me. I really regret some decisions I made in my youth. I was often looked at as a rebel because I wore my hair long. I never grew my hair long in a conscious effort to be a rebel, I grew it long because I thought it was cool!

    I am one of those who fell away from the Army because of how my family was treated. I have seen some horrible things done to my family that were just not right. As I have grown older I realize this was not God’s fault & I should not blame him—but I did for a long time. I have tried to go back to the Army on occasions but I am uncomfortable & have a hard time getting past the hard feelings I have harbored.

    The Salvation Army does many great things but the political nature of the organization & officer’s trying to reach the next plateau while stepping on their peers has to stop. As brothers & sisters in Christ we should always strive to lift each other up, not tear one another down.

    Again, I regret many things I did, my parents were judged sometimes as not being good parents because of my decisions. To their credit they never told me this, but I am a very perceptive person & could see truth, but they always seemed somehow rise above it. I wish I had their resolve & ability to let things go. I try, but it is something I struggle with in my daily life.

    Again, a good read Scott!

  2. , I was an officers kid. I saw how my parents we’re treated, and it really put a bad taste in my mouth. After graduating high school, my mother was very heartbroken when I told her I did not want to follow her and my late father as officers. I saw how my father would spend 25 hours a day 8 days a week you hang the work the army had laid out for him to do.for many years he was stationed on the as the assistant to the property secretary. When the property secretary was promoted, and he had recommended dad as his replacement, that recommendation was rejected. A person with no knowledge or experience as required and necessary for that position was put in as the secretary simply because of the family name and history.shortly thereafter, my parents were moved from THQ back to the field, where they had the task of putting on building campaigns 42 new Corps . when both of those tasks were accomplished successfully, there was no recognition given for the long hours and hard work that was performed. It always seemed to me that if your name was so and so, you were a privileged individual.however too many times it seemed as though many of the other officers look down their noses at those who were not of a privileged status I did turn away from the Army because of this, and seeing how other officers act and do things presently I am very disappointed, and at times ashamed when people know that I had a long history in the Salvation Army. I have tried many times 2 tell them that this present action was not like it was when I was a kid growing up in the Salvation Army. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that many of the older officers still feel they are doing what needs to be done.however, when a person is stationed at T HQ, DHQ, or IHQ for an extendedperiod of time, they seem to lose sight of what the army is all about.

  3. I am an Officer’s kid. I am grateful for the amazing upbringing I had. I was always given freedom to be myself by my parents. I was blessed to be part of corps where I was accepted for who I was. I was privileged to live in different parts of the UK and spend four years on the other side of the world. My parents protected me from knowing some of the tougher stuff they went through and I was privileged to see the way they loved people and the way many people loved and respected them. Maybe some people had expectations of me that I didn’t know about, but that would have been their problem not mine.

    I became a soldier before I committed my life to Christ. My parents had many a good reason to kick me off the rolls! They didn’t. They prayed and when at the age of 19 I encountered Jesus personally, found Him to be utterly trustworthy, discovered forgiveness was real and powerful, I found myself within the first hour of new life in Christ stating that I knew I would end up in SA ministry. I kind of think of myself as a rebel kid that God did something with! When I entered the training college many of my peers expressed surprise! But I had seen enough in my years as an officers kid to know that this was a low risk decision about my future! There may be some today who might view me as a vaguely rebellious, certainly mischievous officer. Their problem. Not mine!

    And tomorrow I turn 45. I have children myself. And so I find myself reminded of my responsibility as a parent to not put expectations on my kids that will make it difficult for them to grow and develop without some of the damage being done to them that has been done to others, many of whom I grew up with. People who now hate church, reject church, and reject God because of stuff that happened to them in their early days.

    I am loathe in some ways to post this stuff because I have read what Sean and Jack have written above and I in no way write to contradict their stories, because their stories are their stories.

    I just felt I needed to say that it can be OK. Rubbish happens in any church/organisation/denomination. My upbringing had it’s share of challenges that I had to face. Some tough moves and hard adjustments (NZ TO South London at the age of 14 was not good!). Not everyone was kind to mum and dad. I don’t love the Army. I love what God can do through TSA when we give Him time and space. I know it has many imperfections (… erm… like me!). But I just wanted to say that being an OK was OK for me, and so far it seems to be OK for my kids. And I thank God for all that has passed and all that’s to come, and I trust him with it!

    1. I like that, “i dont love the Army. O love what God can do through TSA when you give Him time and space.” AMEN! You are correct there is rubbish in all churches. I too had wonderful parents who protected me from much of that rubbish!

    2. This is a good article. I’m not an officers kid but an officers spouse and not an officer myself. There are similarities! I am finding that there are greater unwarranted expectations put upon me, then on the other hand others who don’t want me to ‘feature’ in the corps at all. Did I sign up to the officers covenant… no, but yet I find my self doing all the things I am ‘allowed to do’ to support my husband. I wouldn’t change it for the world it sometimes I wish corps folk fully appreciated what it is like.

  4. There were plenty of times I loved being an officers kid, but most of the time I wished I wasn’t. I enjoyed the corps and corps activities. I went to all the camps, looked forward to them honestly. But it could be hard. Everyone knows you….or at least of you and your family. More than once I heard whispers, “she won because she’s an officers kid” or “she got the part because she’s the majors daughter”. In all honesty I believe it was harder to win awards, harder to get parts in musicals, or solos in choir or band. And when school activities or school friend events competed for time slots with the corps, the corps always won. Yes you are held at a higher standard. You represent your parents. But I don’t believe that is exclusive to officers kids. And I don’t believe it stopped us from, well, being kids. Every parents job affects their children. Keep in mind that kids, o.k.’s or not, are not perfect and learn from mistakes. How you react to those mistakes is all you have control over. As for their future with the Army? For me, I love the Army with all my heart. I see that it is good the majority of the time. I know first hand the help and love the Army provides to so many. I will always love the Army. I have however chosen not to be an officer. I honestly feel I served for 20 years already. I think every officers kid knows what I mean by that. I spent many more years at the local corps after my parents were transferred and I stayed backfire school and to start a life on my own. I have switched churches because there became a point I didn’t feel like I was growing anymore. And I feel the corps had changed as well. My parents, who will retire this year, respect and understand my move as I have prayed and discussed it with them. I also have 4 sisters. All but one have left the Army to continue worship at another church. I believe that you will raise your children to know God. Trust in him and trust in them. And again, the Army will always have a place in my heart.

  5. I was and am an Officer’s and a Pastor’s kid. I don’t have any answers either. What I do know is that we were taught that God is the head of the “Army” and He needs to be head of our lives.

    As I look at my siblings, yes it seems to have coloured their approach to attending church. In the days when I was single I would attend different church services up to four times on Sunday. What has affected my attendance is the lack of very good preaching where I attend at present.

    As a shy person I found making friends hard but I would have had that problem anyway. The only thing I found as an adult I was constantly wanting to rearrange the furniture in my house every 3 months or so. (we moved every year until I was 15)

    I guess the only thing that we missed out on as kids was the lack of being able to development a confident faith in God simply because as SAO kids we were very protected. Our parents protected us of course but People in town, we were often stationed in small towns, knew who our parents were and what they did because they wore a uniform, so I felt that kids would behave differently in front of me. (that could be my imagination of course).

    I understand that the pressures of being a SAO these days is very different with very different pressures that have come from a very different society but first and foremost it is important to tell any child that God is head of the Church, the universal church of which we are all apart of.

  6. Interesting reflections from the “Pastor” … Thank you for inviting OKs to respond.

    I was an OK and I absolutely loved every minute of it. I loved moving every year and meeting people. There were many new experiences and life was an adventure. If there was any down side to this, it was revealed in adulthood, when I felt like I didn’t have “any roots”. We had lived in three countries, and as an adult I felt (and still feel) equal allegiance to each of the three, because of childhood memories and formations.

    It also meant that I didn’t form long term friendships. It was in the days when it was a big deal to place a long distance phone call, so childhood friendships were short. We moved on and I made new friends. It meant too that I didn’t have a Corps that was ‘mine’. Moving out of home as a teenager meant that I selected the Corps of my dreams, and I chose to go where “all was big and bright”, Petersham in Sydney, and thereafter, Brisbane City Temple. For the first time in my life, I really belonged, and put down roots. They were the halcyon glory days!

    Growing up, my parents were always appointed to small struggling Corps. Dad had the ability to put a little band together. He and Mum would seek out wounded souls, give them a cornet, and bring them back into the fold and nurture them and their families. I learned the technique of ‘friendship evangelism’ from my parents. It worked. And it still works. It beats hands down all the modern fancy church growth formulas and time-wasting committees designed to bring people into the Kingdom! Time would be better spent getting out there and DOING it.

    I count it as fortunate that, as a young person, I never knew if my parents had any difficulties or stresses. Their infectious positive attitude and unending duties were the norm. Even on those few occasions when they took their annual furlough in one of the Army’s little cottages by the sea, Dad would drive home three times in a week to ‘do the pubs’ and other responsibilities he had. He never really had a holiday.

    It’s only in adulthood that I’ve reflected on this and realised the physical demands placed upon my parents. They never complained or spoke negatively about anything. The home environment was a joyful place. Looking back, I appreciate this.

    It’s only in adulthood that I came to know that life for my parents wasn’t always a bed of roses. Adult conversations with them revealed that they had faced some challenges of which I, as a child, was totally unaware. I appreciate this too. I think this kind of protection was healthy. And Christ-like.

    The evolutionary knowledge that became mine in adulthood, from conversations with my parents, was apt in its timing. Learning something deeper about their Officership journey as a mature person was, for me, a good thing. I wasn’t about to return my instrument and bonnet and storm out of the Army in a fit of anger or dismay on their behalf, never to darken its doors again! What an immature and unnecessary response that would be.

    WHEREVER THERE ARE HUMAN BEINGS, including in faith communities, there will be the awkward saints who disrupt and hurt others. For some people it’s in the DNA, Christian or not. It saddens me that other people respond or react to these awkward saints and make life changing decisions based upon the behaviour of someone else.

    It saddens me that people have “left the church” or “left the Army” because of the stupid or ungodly behaviour of, or treatment by, someone else. It’s NOT The Army or the church per se, that’s at fault. Every organisation, whether secular or religious, has its agitators. It’s part of ‘being human’.

    For every awkward saint who contributes to the downfall or the deserting of the cause by another, there are a hundred good saints. The adage that one bad apple can ruin the whole cart of apples is, unfortunately, a truism. That’s why we need to deal with the bad apple before it can contaminate the whole box. Let’s not leave it to the good apples to deliberately roll themselves off the cart to escape, only to be squashed and wounded in the process. Too many precious souls have been lost like this.

    Before I start digressing into a sermon, to get back to the point of this response…. the life of an OK was an exciting journey. It was a privilege. It was a training ground for life. I saw Christianity in action every day, in both the attitude and the actions of my parents. Their faith in God kept them strong in their service within the “organisation of their choice”. It was (and still is) an organisation run by PEOPLE. People fail. People do the wrong thing sometimes. But there are countless more who do the RIGHT thing and express their faith through this wonderful movement called The Salvation Army which was raised by God.

    Yes, so my brother slept in a drawer in a shared room with my sister, because the quarters was so tiny; and yes, there was a DC who told my dad to collect wood to burn to heat a saucepan of water to make a cup of tea (purchasing a kettle was forbidden); and yes, my parents were posted to struggling little places while Officers much younger and less experienced were appointed to large Corps; yes, my dad had his quality music compositions regularly rejected by the Music Board while The Army was approving (in my view) mickey mouse lyrics; yes, there was another DC who told dad he’d never be accepted in this Territory because he was a Pom; yes, my dad was treated with suspicion because he was (perhaps the first?) Officer to gain a Bachelor of Theology degree; and yes, there were other and more significant crosses along the way, but SO WHAT? That’s life. Compared to the more glorious and positive experiences of serving God in the Army, I learned from my parents that those things are trite. Let’s be strong in the grace of the Lord and stop giving permission to the awkward saints to control our lives.

    I thank God that I was an OK. It was the best life!

    Must close now… I’ve got some apples to collect.

  7. I’m training to be an officer in the UK at the ripe old age of 50 – I have teenage children, one of whom already has flown the nest and has a family of her own. So I come to officership from a lifetime of ‘other’ work.

    My previous life was both as a military officer, and then as an HR Manager for a non-profit, then a Director in Local Government in the UK. Guess what? We moved house every few years; my kids went to a succession of schools; what I did for a living was extensively (and critically) reported in the local press, including my salary; we were never ‘locals’ despite having a major role in the local community; my kids were expected to conform, to be well-behaved citizens and there was criticism of them (which affected my job) if they weren’t…….does any of this sound familiar? Like OKs, my kids hesitate when people ask them where they are ‘from’.

    I have friends whose career path took them into senior management of large multinational organisations with a household name. Guess what? Much of my experience is also common to their children. Being moved long distances – including overseas – by your company at short notice happens in corporate life, too – and there’s not even the pretence that family welfare is being taken care of. And it’s as difficult to get out of many corporate jobs as it is out of officership – resign, and you’ve lost your job, your company house and your entire friendship circle.

    A punishing job with long hours, facing other peoples’ crises and emotional distress and with no acknowledgement for your effort? That just about sums up most of my career. I’ve worked 7-7 five days a week and brought home work that drowns the weekend for most of my life, just about shoehorning church into my Sunday. My kids were certainly the poorer for that. And most of the decent money I made from my jobs – the supposed compensation of non-Army work – went to pay outrageous mortgages and rents on houses I ended up selling at a loss every couple of years when the next move came.

    I hear and acknowledge all of the gripes from OKs – they are valid. But so are the experiences of my kids, my friends’ kids, and the kids of all organisations which move parents from place to place. Sometimes the OKs I meet seem to think that all non-officers have jobs which nail them to the same spot for their whole lives. There is a huge amount of common cause to be made between OKs and the thousands of children outside the Army whose experiences are almost indistinguishable.

    The Salvation Army is just another organisation, folks – it may have been raised and continues to be sustained by God, but it is peopled by flawed human beings. Where it matters is where it drives people away from God – but we have to do our best to help our children see the difference between God and his boundless love and the flawed people who seek to worship Him.

  8. Similar to Helen’s children, I moved around a lot and never know what to say when people ask “where is home?”. I am not an officer’s child, it was just family circumstances.

    I never saw the officer’s children as being any different to me when I was growing up, and I never treated them any differently as a YPSM. But then I dodn’t see any difference between myself and an officer, were both in full time ministry, it’s just that one worked for the Army and I worked for a company. We have very different pressures and responsibilities, but I treated my CO how I would treat anyone else: I hope that is with respect and grace.

    Children are always going to be affected by choices their parents make, it is how parents and the wider family/community deals with this that makes all the difference. I think the SA has made great strides in taking into account children when looking at moves (certainly in the UK)….it is not perfect, but the God whom we serve is!

  9. I am Officers kid.
    My mother and father were not, though both were raised in the army, as was I.

    Moves never seemed to have a cause as a kid.. You just had to believe things were for the best.

    Have found, growing older that as an “OK” regardless of how you find your feet spritually you find yourself defending your officer parents for all the choices you make.

    You’re encouraged to find your own way, then discover your parents are judged by everyday soldiers (and wider) based upon your life..

    Your marriage falls apart, and you find your folks have letters written to dhq about them?? Hypocrisy at its finest is the best narrative there!!!

    Am not going to write an essay however am going to say that never have I had to defend my choices to non army people, and never have my circumstances been used against my parents by non army people.

    I know my officer parents love me for all the choices, good and bad that I have made. But I struggle to understand why my decicions are used to score points by others.

    It has never felt Christian, nor just, but rightly or wrongly my parents have to answer for my perceived sins??

    Maybe I’m alone in how I feel?maybe not!

    Will leave things there..

    Love to you all x

  10. I am an officers kid. I stopped attending the church over a year ago. I felt I was not being spiritually fed, and like most young adults I felt out of place and left. I donated my uniform and found a more fitting church. I still currently work with the organization which has been great. I do plan to move on as well after the attainment of my masters. I feel it’s time for me to let go and move on. TSA has been my life and I want something new. I think something TSA should incorporate could be officer kid support groups. Maybe at camp or other large gatherings. It’s not easy moving all the time and having to start over. Creating a social support group with that same commonality can be beneficial. One of my schools had a support group and they assumed I was military so placed me in that group. It was always a highlight. I think TSA should also provide some type of counselor to speak with confidentially. I felt like I could never truly say how I felt because everyone knew my parents and had their own expectations. I think those two things could greatly benefit future officers kids.

  11. I do not have any family history in The Salvation Army. In my limited time within TSA (7 yrs) I have delt a fair bit with officiers kids. At churches, camps & mission trips. I have seen the expectations put on officers kids (by officers/parents as well as church members), but have also seen the fruits when they have been supported & discipled.

    I have had the privilege of being able to support, mentor & disciple officers kids over the past couple of years. Seeing the fruits when we are able to do this. Getting them involved with the mission of TSA & pushing them to step up/out in their faith!

    I have also experienced & seen the expectations put on youth & young adults in general within TSA. I think to some extent the issue extends deeper than just officers kids but to all youth & young adults. We need to find a way to disciple young people & allow them to reach their full God given potential rather than placing expectations on them.
    (bring in, build up, send out)

    Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
    Matthew 28:19-20

    One question I have is:
    To what extent should older officers kids (15-25) be involved with their parents work?

  12. Hi – as a son of officer parents, whose Mother was an OK and as an officer with OKs as his children (UK short for Officer’s kid) I feel the problem here is a much greater one than being an officers child. The UK “Fit for mission” to be released in 2016 highlights a major need within our denomination. When Christ said “You must love one another as I have loved you” he was speaking generally, but when we specifically aim this at Salvationist’s there is a strong argument that there is a deficit of love “One to another” and this is sometimes highlighted by the way officers and their children are treated and in our approach to each other. I pray for a day when people see us and say “See how these Christians love one another” – Why? Because that is what Christ commanded and we have not always been as faithful in this area as we should have been.

  13. It has been great reading these ponderings and replys. I am an OK. I can relate to much of what each person has said. I’ve experienced the good and the bad of being an OK.

    The moving was difficult for a shy kid. But I met so many people (some I still keep in touch with) and saw many places. I never thought I’d have a long term friend and waited for each relationship to end until one friend signed a card “your forever friend.” I’ve lived in the same place for 30 yrs now and she has been my best friend for the entire time.

    I don’t think we should blame others or the Army for’s our reaction to them that counts.
    I choose to continue to worship and serve God through the SA.

    One way I try to make things better than they were for me is to lead our Corps in Clergy Appreciation Month. This was started by Focus on the Family 20 yrs ago. I have been leading it for 19 yrs. I wasted a year waiting for someone else to do it.
    I encourage everyone in the Corps to do special things for the Officers and their children throughout the month…some do things throughout the year. (Bake cookies, have them over for dinner, take them dinner, give them theatre tickets..lots of different things. ) We also have a pastor appreciation Sunday. We collect donations and buy special gifts for each person in the family. There are lots if ears who listen out for needs and wants ( Corps secretaries are always helpful). We have a poluck lunch with a special cake for dessert in their honour. We are a small Corps with middle income people but over the years I have taught them of the necessity of supporting, and ministering to the officers and their children. Our congregation has become generous…selfless…thoughtful…
    watchful. They have grown to be aware of the stresses and strains of Officers; the demands on their time.
    So I encourage other OKs who’ve lived in the glass house to turn their experiences goid and bad into something positive. It has made a huge difference in the lives of our officers…less negativity…more compassion and support. And a LOT more prayer for them. I know it has benefited the children too.
    Check out Focus on the Family for ideas.

  14. I am an Officers kid. (Aka “officers brat”). That name is how we were labelled. We were not bad kids (2 brothers and I), yet people saw us as such.
    My parents moved practically every year. It was very hard on me as a shy girl, with not a lot of self esteem. I did not make friends easily and dreaded that first day at a new school every year. I was born in 1958, and when I was 2 my parents became officers. I hated the life we lived, yet I loved to go to church and be involved in activities. My parents suffered financially throughout their early officer years as the corps they were appointed to rarely had the funds to pay them a salary. Until the age of 10 we were appointed to corps in the eastern provinces, mostly Nova Scotia. My mothers parents took care of us supplying our needs of the basic things in life ( food, clothing, etc). If it were not for them who knows how we would have survived. The army did not care about their own. I saw my mother cry many times over the situations they were in. I remember coming home from school for lunch and all we had was a piece of white bread with brown sugar spread on it. Dinner meals consisted of beans and wieners, Kraft dinner, etc.
    As the suffering years went on, it affected all of us kids in our schooling, our self esteem, our futures. To this day the memories still haunt and affect me in many ways. My parents did the best they could and I watched them grow old and eventually pass. Today the army treats their officers so much better and as far as I can see and tell they lead healthy lives. Do I reject God for all I have had to endure? NO, certainly not. My hard and hurtful feelings lie within the Army of my growing up years. I can’t change the past but I am thankful that now the Army takes better care of OFFICER,s and their family’s and that they take into consideration the long term affects of the children of these Officers and are leaving them in appointments for longer terms and not not uprooting them every year.
    I’ve had this nagging instinct in the past year or so to write a book on my life as a Officers kid. Maybe someday I will as there is much more to delve into.

  15. I was late officers kid. I saw both sides. I grew up until age 15 a ‘normal’ life…and then my parents became officers. I still attend the army, but I have a VERY bitter taste in my mouth. I wouldn’t attend if it wasn’t for the great relationships I have formed in my individual church. I will never become a soldier for I refuse to be associated with all the jerks within the army. I understand there are some really good people, but I am sad to report that there are probably 2 jerks for every human, godly person. I think it is horrific the way the army treats their officers, and over works them. I also think it is horrific the way people step on one another to get themselves to the ‘top’ politically. I think the army has moved a long way away from where the founding principals were. Not only this, but they pay their officers LESS than minimum wage, and still expect them to retire with dignity-nice try dummies.

  16. Very well said!

    I’m an OK too since birth. And growing up that what I observed too here in our territory (Philippines). I hope all Salvationists will be able to read this.

    Permission to share

    Thanks and God Bless

  17. An interesting read especially for me as an officers kid.

    While I do agree with the challenging and undeniable fishbowl concept of being an officers kid, what I discovered early in my journey is that this challenge is not unique to us.

    Many of my friends who were the kids of judges, senior military leaders, government leaders, doctors, foreign dignitaries, mayors, leading business people and others of position in the communities we lived around the world have faced similar challenges with the good, bad and even ugly dynamics of their parents careers. So in my experience it is clear this is not something unique to my Salvation Army officer kid journey.

    When all is said and done though as I look back over my own unique prodigal son experience as an officers kid I thank God for all that I have been given.

    Was life always easy?? No!! not by a long shot in many ways !! but many of those struggles I faced were based on the choices I made regardless of what career my parents were chosen for. I always wonder who ever said it would be an easy life anyway?? hahah!. The way I was raised was to understand that this is supposed to be the abundant life not the easy life. As such, being an officers kid will most certainly give you an amazing abundance of opportunities to grow and be shaped by life. And Seriously, how can we truly say we have lived and experienced the abundant life if we have not walked through the challenging mountains, the deep dark valleys and the lush pastures that God uses to shape us and help us grow while ensuring His Promise and Presence is readily available to those who faithfully seek Him?

    But like most things in life I believe that if you choose to walk away from the experience as a victim or choose to celebrate the vibrancy of life and find victory in your journey, well that is more about the individual person than the position our parents hold as a calling or in other cases a career.

    In my case being an officers kid was one of the very best things that God has placed in my life and I for one would not give up my diverse officer kid experiences for any other upbringing in life. On a final note how grateful I am to have been blessed to be a part of my parents calling and being able to share in their joy of serving others around the globe.

  18. Thank you so much for this article I have been an OK my whole life and have had both positive and negative experiences within the Salvation Army. I am still within the Army as I believe that God has called me to be here, (non-uniform Salvationist – which I feel God had called me too).

    As with anything it tends to be the negative things you go through that mark you more than the good, there’s also the fact that it seems to hurt more when “Christian” people inflict the pain rather than non-Christians.

    As I have said already, I have seen both sides of this story, there are the corps that you arrive at and they will accept and value you for who you are and those where you and your parents come as a package and the attitude very much centres around the fact that you’ll be leaving in a few years anyway!! So why bother? Your not really one of us!!
    With hindsight I believe most of the harder times were as a teenage when I very much wanted to explore what i could do and was desperate to be seen as an individual.

    I have also seen the way in which both my parents and other officers have been treated within the Salvation Army, I understand that there are issues everywhere you go, but I don’t believe that it is on the same scale as this. Again I believe that it hurts more because the SA claim to be a Christian Church/Organisation.

    I had reached the point where what I had experienced hurt so much that I was ready rip my articles of war up, it was then that in my heart that I felt God saying to me that the covenant was between Him and me NOT between The SA and me. Thankfully I listened and I still have it as the promise I have made to God, I am also in the place of trying to forgive The Salvation Army and leave all of the hurt and pain with God. He knows what is happening within the SA, He knows all that has happened to OK’s all over the world, it’s safe in His hands.

    The scariest thing is that there is a sense of denial within the Salvation Army that this is happening. I have had this conversation with people and their comments have tended to be that it’s all in my head, it’s my feelings, it’s not reality. How can it be when so many people are saying the exact same thing?
    Some have been blessed with positive experiences and that’s a wonderful thing, but some have not, it would be interesting to know how many OK’s have left the army and why, how many are still Christian but going to another church etc.

    Thank you for the opportunity to share in this discussion, maybe someone in The SA will begin to listen.

  19. I enjoyed reading this. The “move list” just came out last week which has opened up discussions in my house amngst my siblings and I as officers kids.

    The biggest issue I had growing up as an officers kid was the feeling of insecurity and instability within my own home. Every year, waiting anxiously to see if my family and I would be moving to another location; it was a very unsettling feeling. My sisters and I all deal with anxiety issues… and tonight, my brother expressed his feelings of anxiousness all throughout his life as well. Not to mention all of the social and acedemic affects moving has on children… moving every so often makes it hard to create long term relationships, and changing provinces and school systems was what made school hell for myself and my siblings. Especially for myself who already struggled with a learning disability.

    I realized tonight that the only close relationships I’ve ever had were my long term boyfriends… which I started having in order to feel some sort of long term stability and comfort. Now, I’m 21, getting married shortly and so excited and looking forward to the thought of having a long term and stable environment. My sisters have also followed the same pattern that I am/was in. It’s all very interesting. I understand that every family and circumstance is different, but would I ever chose this lifestyle for my own children? No. In my experience, I believe it is unhealthy for a child to love around. I believe a child should stay in the same house and the same school. (Unless the change is needed in order to bring a healthier life for the child.) Children desperately NEED a sense of stability and security!

    Today: I am still in love with the lord, but now attend a non denominational church that has has the same pastor for 15 years. It’s not only important for the pastors family to feel secure, it’s important for the congregation to feel that as well! (Unless an exceptional circumstances needes to take place) I am thankful for the Salvation Army and all that they do and all of their ministry, but the church system is something that they don’t have right and is something that needs to change! It’s a shame, I miss the band, the songsters and the DYB… however, stability to me triumphs over these things

  20. I’m an officers’ kid and my parents are stationed in the Caribbean. Growing up I absolutely loved moving around and getting new houses and whatnot, but as I entered my teenage years, all the aspects of being an officers’ kid with the combination of the expectations of being a pastor’s kid, has resulted in me having mental health problems. To top it all off, I strayed away from the faith and I also discovered that I’m bisexual. Now I absolutely hate going to church and how unfairly l’ve been treated and is being treated, both by my parents – who are trying their best to improve – and the congregation.

  21. I stumbled across this post and have been interested in all the comments. I am an OK who is now in his 40’s. To this point in my life I never thought being an OK had any real impact on my life, that is until recently when things have stated to become real.

    I now have had the realisation that, similar to other commenters, the life OK’s lived in years gone by was actually very emotionally unhealthy. The stress of the roles our parents were put in filtered down to me by way of emotional neglect. As other people have said – the Army always came first, which I thought was good – but I now realise that I suppressed my own desires and interests for that pursuit.

    The anxiety of the annual moves and having to change school and house. There are now studies that show how moving house, let alone school, state, city – everything – has a traumatic impact on a child. So when you do that unlimited times for most of their childhood and seemingly not in your parents control. It has a lasting impact.

    In my life this has seen me develop what is known as Complex PTSD and is the result of neglect and constant changes in life, meaning that my life has been lived in a constant state of waiting for what will happen next. When will the next move come, when will my friends change. Repressing emotions and feelings and becoming very emotionally unavailable for those who I profess to love.

    I have jumped from job to job and am now facing a break down of my marriage.

    Validation was only found in doing a good job at the Army. Which saw me take on any number of leadership roles in the corps I have attended. But I still felt empty. Doing these roles at the corps came before everything else, because that was what was modelled to us.

    I’ve heard from a phsychologist that they have a number of people on there books who were OK’s, as their childhoods were not healthy.

    Things have changed greatly to what it was 20, 30, 40 years ago. But I think some studies into the impacts of being an OK would be worth doing.

  22. My parents were mainly stationed at DHQ’s so all of their actions were highly scrutinized along with the actions of their children. Anything that I did could reflect badly on my parents which could result being moved to a bad location in summer. We were caught in this toxic situation because financially there would be no way to leave: the Army owns the house, the cars, the furniture, the dishes, the linens etc. When my parents did decide to finally leave we were destitute, homeless, jobless, (my mother had no work experience in 25 years and struggled to find employment) as well as sinners for leaving the ministry.

    I am baffled by this organization that spends so much time caring for others and no time caring for the people who dedicate their lives for the cause. Because I was an officers kid I was held to a much higher standard then other children my age. I believe that my parents reached their breaking point when they were reprimanded by their superiors for not being good parents after I was hospitalized for attempting suicide as a teenager. If this had been an outreach program then compassion and sympathy would have been provided instead of criticism and judgment from those who claim to represent God and to do his work.

    The Salvation Army has somehow lost it way from William Booth seeing the dirty and hungry being turned away from church to where they are today. I know that the organization is struggling financially and to be honest it might not be a bad thing if it is no longer around. There ARE other charities and there ARE other churches.

    1. I too was an OK. I’m now 63 years old and the childhood I had still has an effect on me. As you, I attempted suicide at age 13 and 16. Life was awful growing up.

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