Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Lea A. Hubbard, PhD, Chairperson; Mary Jo Schumann, PhD, Committee Member; Christopher B. Newman, PhD, Committee Member


military children, highly mobile, education, leadership, resiliency


The life of a highly mobile child brings educational and social challenges. Highly mobile children who move at least four to five times during their PK-12 grade years generally experience greater difficulty in their social interactions and education than children with a more stable living experience. One specific group of highly mobile children, military children, face these challenges and more, due somewhat to the unique culture of the military. Military children are called upon to move across state lines and/or international borders and typically face multiple school absences and stress related to deployments of their active duty parent(s). There is a lack of research, generally, on the lives of highly mobile military children and, particularly, research that incorporates their own testimony. This qualitative study was conducted to gain a better understanding of the experiences of highly mobile military children and the strategies they claim to have developed to cope with the consequences of multiple moves. A total of 25 young adults who were highly mobile during their PK-12 grade years were interviewed to gain their perspective. Grounded theory was used to analyze the findings that emerged inductively from their interviews. The unit of analysis was the highly mobile military child; however, some parents were interviewed to provide contextual information about the experiences of their children. The participants’ ability to successfully navigate multiple moves showed that the interrelatedness of having a strong supportive family, being part of a military community that created a sense of belonging, having the benefit of culturally sensitive educators, and having a combination of formal and informal support structures helped these participants build resiliency and the human and social capital needed to navigate the multiple moves they experienced in their PK-12 grade years. This study responds to the gap in knowledge about the experiences of highly mobile military children by providing their perspective. This study better informs the community that works to support these children, including parents, school educators, and counselors, and it provides important knowledge to better support future generations of highly mobile military children.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies