Alexandria, VA – Life can be complicated for the families of active duty military service members. They’re constantly on the move, and readjusting to a new city or town can be difficult. On Wednesday, April 10, the students of military families were recognized in an assembly at St. Rita Catholic School by Emma and Derrick Dockery, who run Yellow Ribbons United – a non profit dedicated to bridging the gap between military and civilian kids.
“We moved every three years, I believe 17 times,” Emma Dockery told the students. “But for those military children who are in this room, it is such a gift and it might take you until you are an adult until you can finally realize it.”
April is National Month of the Military Child, and there are an estimated 1.2 million military children of active duty service members around the globe. Military families are three times more likely to move than civilian families, and nearly 80 percent of military kids attend public schools.
You might recognize Derrick Dockery from his years as a guard for the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills. The questions from students to the 6-foot-6 linebacker included, “What do you eat,” “What’s it like guarding Tony Romo?” And “What’s your favorite color?”
“I wasn’t born into a military family, I married into one,” Derrick Dockery told the students. “And I’m from Texas, so I like barbecue.”
Emma Dockery’s father was in the U.S. Army for 30 years and her brother, David Williams, was killed serving in Afghanistan, prompting her to found the nonprofit in 2012.
“I felt there were so many military nonprofits out there, but so few and far between focused specifically on the children of service members,” she said.
St. Rita Principal Mary Pat Schlickenmaier said that approximately 25 percent of the schools’ students come from military families.
“St. Rita’s has a long tradition of serving families in the military and foreign service. We have families who have returned to us after multiple tours of duty, and we are proud to serve those who serve in God’s name.”