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Month of the Military Child: Malmstrom gymnasts build resilience

Caedmon Cox, son of Joseph Cox, 40th Helicopter Squadron, performs a backflip April 11, 2019, in Great Falls, Mont.

Caedmon Cox, son of Joseph Cox, 40th Helicopter Squadron, performs a backflip April 11, 2019, in Great Falls, Mont. Caedmon is one of three military children from Malmstrom to compete in the 2019 regional gymnastics competition, which draws the best gymnasts from Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

Jonathan Menuey, son of Col. Christopher Menuey, 341st Operations Group, practices his routine on parallel bars April 11, 2019, in Great Falls, Mont.

Jonathan Menuey, son of Col. Christopher Menuey, 341st Operations Group, practices his routine on parallel bars April 11, 2019, in Great Falls, Mont. Jonathan took first place in his division at the 2019 regional gymnastic competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Beau Wade)

Chris Park, son of Tech. Sgt. Joseph Park, 341st Missile Wing Staff Agencies, practices a rings routine April 11, 2019, in Great Falls, Mont.

Chris Park, son of Tech. Sgt. Joseph Park, 341st Missile Wing Staff Agencies, practices a rings routine April 11, 2019, in Great Falls, Mont. As a military child, Chris has had to move several times in his early life and has trained at several different gyms. (U.S. Air Force photo by Beau Wade)

Jonathan Menuey, son of Col. Christopher Menuey, 341st Operations Group, performs a fly away from the horizontal bar April 11, 2019, in Great Falls, Mont.

Jonathan Menuey, son of Col. Christopher Menuey, 341st Operations Group, performs a fly away from the horizontal bar April 11, 2019, in Great Falls, Mont. Jonathan took first place in his division at the 2019 regional gymnastics competition. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

Caedmon Cox, son of Joseph Cox, 40th Helicopter Squadron, practices circles on the mushroom April 11, 2019, in Great Falls, Mont.

Caedmon Cox, son of Joseph Cox, 40th Helicopter Squadron, practices circles on the mushroom April 11, 2019, in Great Falls, Mont. Caedmon is one of three military children from Malmstrom to compete in the 2019 regional competition, which draws the best gymnasts from Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo by Beau Wade)

Jonathan Menuey, son of Col. Christopher Menuey, 341st Operations Group, performs a handspring vault April 11, 2019, in Great Falls, Mont.

Jonathan Menuey, son of Col. Christopher Menuey, 341st Operations Group, performs a handspring vault April 11, 2019, in Great Falls, Mont. Jonathan took first place in his division at a regional tournament. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- April is designated as the Month of the Military Child. This Department of Defense awareness month was established to recognize the sacrifices made by children of military members serving at home and abroad.

From moving every few years to worrying about a deployed parent’s safety, military children have to endure a lot of stressors.

One way these children can find consistency is through various hobbies, such as sports.

For three military children from Malmstrom Air Force Base, gymnastics has followed them throughout their lives.

“I get to go out and experience a lot of different towns and meet new people,” said Jonathan Menuey, son of Col. Christopher Menuey, 341st Operations Group. “I enjoy seeing the different types of athletes, coaches and gyms.”

Jonathan says it’s fun to meet new coaches and athletes, but it can also provide a learning curve.

“I miss the friends I make at each gym,” he said. “But with each new gym comes a new coach. I get to learn what kind of coach they’re going to be.”

His current coach, Katy Postlethwait, sees constantly moving as both a challenge and a benefit.

“It’s tough when the kids come from different coaches who teach things differently,” said Postlethwait. “But this has been beneficial to me as well because the kids bring so much knowledge and skills I wouldn’t have learned any other way.”

Most gymnasts typically stay with one gym or one coach throughout the early stages of their career, but military children don’t usually have that option.

“The challenge between moving every few years is that you get used to your coach and you have to let go of your teammates and friends,” said Chris Park, son of Tech. Sgt. Joseph Park, 341st Missile Wing Staff Agencies. “But you do get to meet new people and learn from each other. You learn new things by moving around but it’s hard.”

“It’s hard to move around because you have to make friends all over again and it’s sad when you have to say goodbye,” said Caedmon Cox, son of Joseph Cox, 40th Helicopter Squadron.

Postlethwait says that each boy brings a sense of competition during training, which helps push each other to work hard. The boy’s hard work payed off, as they each competed in a regional competition for their respective divisions, with Jonathan taking first place in his division.

The regional competition, which took place in Washington state, drew the best gymnasts from each state within the region: Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska.

“This is the competition they’ve been working towards all year,” said Postlethwait. “I’m really proud of them and their hard work to get there.”

Having the ability to participate in these competitions wouldn’t be possible, though, without the support and motivation from the boys’ biggest supporters: their families.

“Moving around has made me closer to my family because we get to experience the tough and good times together,” said Jonathan. “My family keeps me going and that just helps me get closer to them.”

For more information on this story and to hear from the gymnasts themselves, check out the video in the link below.

https://youtu.be/4KT0wv8MOsI
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