Army couple recognizes importance of Month of the Military Child

According to the Department of Defense, the average child in a military family will move six to nine times during a school career from kindergarten to 12th grade; an average frequency of three times more than non-military families. Currently, more than 1.7 million children have one or more parents on active service in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The DOD provides the nation's largest employer-sponsored childcare system, serving approximately 180,000 children ranging in age from newborn to 12 years old. More than 700 DOD child development centers and childcare facilities are located across more than 230 installations worldwide.

Given a loving home with healthy coping skills, military kids are often resilient in the face of frequent deployments, moves and life changes.

At Picatinny Arsenal, Maj. Andrew Brashaw, Assistant Product Manager Crew Served Weapons, part of Project Manager Soldier Lethality and his wife Capt. Catherine Bradshaw, aide-de-camp, Joint Program Executive Office for Armaments and Ammunition, raise their daughter Averie together as a military couple.

The Bradshaws both entered the Army through the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program at the University of South Alabama where they met. Shortly thereafter, they both found themselves serving in the Army, married and eventually starting a family.


The Bradshaws (deployed, but not together). Andrew was able to promote Catherine to First Lieutenant.

Since April 1986, the U.S. Army has observed the Month of the Military Child to recognize the support that military children provide their Soldiers and Families. The Month of the Military Child honors the role military children play in the U.S. Armed Forces community.

Soldiers cannot focus on the battles or challenges ahead if they are concerned about their children at home. Providing a safe, nurturing environment for military children creates a stronger fighting force. The Month of the Military Child reinforces this concept, reminds the nation that our servicemembers' children also serve and provides an opportunity to thank military children for their bravery.

Acknowledging that he and his brother, who is also a U.S. Army major, did not come from a military family, Bradshaw’s decision would make his family proud.

“Neither our parents or grandparents attended college or served in the military, so they’re quite proud of what we have accomplished,” he said. “I think the biggest surprise to me, in hindsight, was how ROTC transformed me from a shy kid from high school into a leader — comfortable with public speaking and empowering others.”

Bradshaw’s wife was just the opposite. She did have a history of service in her family, but the thought of serving never surfaced.

“I grew up in a military family but didn’t think ROTC, or the Army, was for me,” she said. “Honestly, it intimidated me. I didn’t think I was strong enough, disciplined enough, and out of high school I wasn’t interested in what I thought the Army was. So, there I was, headed to university with an academic scholarship, student loans and no idea what I wanted to do with the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration I was in school for. So, I tried ROTC. I discovered I enjoyed the mental and physical challenges the program put me through, and I was good at it. ROTC developed the skills I needed to succeed.”

While the Bradshaws each have their own reasons for entering the service, they are both incredibly proud to serve their nation and lead Soldiers who will one day become future leaders.

“Throughout my career, every position I’ve served in has pushed me out of my comfort zone and I am a better leader for it,” Capt. Bradshaw said of her service. “I am passionate about helping my team get better. I love seeing my Soldiers learn new skills, work together as a team, and accomplish our mission. The petite, 18-year-old woman becoming an expert military heavy equipment operator, the senior non-commissioned officer getting the degree they’ve been working on, the Soldier bringing home a new baby. That’s the good stuff.”

“Through my 11 years of service I’ve enjoyed this aspect of enabling and empowering the others I serve with, seeing them also transform into natural leaders,” Maj. Bradshaw said of his service. “My transition into Army acquisitions allows me to enable Soldiers in a different, but just as meaningful, way by equipping them with the best equipment necessary to win.”

Bradshaw was promoted to major earlier this year, and because they are stationed together are Picatinny, both his wife and daughter were present to witness the occasion and celebrate with him on his achievement.

“Over the years, I’ve been to the Middle East, South Korea, Montenegro, Latvia and Poland,” said Capt. Bradshaw of her time serving in the Army, recognizing that she — like many Soldiers — is not always able to come home to family at the end of the day.

“Each place holds stories of national invasion, oppression, and human rights violations,” she added. I feel it’s my duty to do what I can, and I want to contribute the best I can to making the world a better, safer place. I want a better world and future for my daughter.”

Because of the nature of their current positions, the Bradshaws are on call at all hours of the day and may at times both be on travel at the same time.

“It wouldn’t be possible for Andrew and me to continue to serve at the same time without the support of our family and friends in the military community,” said Capt. Bradshaw. “When we’re stationed far from our families, we’ve always counted on our wonderful military spouse friends for help with childcare and even pet sitting.

“You really can’t do it by yourself, and there are always people in the military community who are willing to help. Additionally, while service requires you to give a lot, there are also a lot of programs to support military families.”

“We have to coordinate and communicate a lot to succeed in both parenting and service,” Capt. Bradshaw said. “With each other and with our leadership. We’ve had great leaders who support families and understand when we need to stay home to care for our daughter when she’s sick or take her to pediatrician checkups.”

“I once brought my daughter to a unit ruck march that started at 6 a.m. because her off-post daycare didn’t open on time. My leaders supported me, and as a leader, I appreciated the opportunity to show my Soldiers that it’s possible to be a parent too. It isn’t easy and you’ve got to be resilient.”

Capt. Bradshaw with her daugher Averie during a ruck march.

While on European rotation, Capt. Bradshaw sent pictures of herself and a tiny Peppa the Pig stuffed animal to Averie. When the Chief of Staff of the Army and Sergeant Major of the Army visited her base, both took pictures with Bradshaw and Peppa for her daughter.

“It helped me feel more connected with her when I was so far away,” she said of the experience.

For the Bradshaws, Picatinny not only serves as their duty station, but it is also a place to call home.

Last year, Picatinny Arsenal was selected as the best garrison within the U.S. Army Installation Management Command ID-Sustainment and fifth overall worldwide within IMCOM, a recognition the northern New Jersey military installation had not previously achieved.

Picatinny Arsenal is one of the top three employers in Morris County, New Jersey, according to the Morris County Office of Planning and Preservation, and supports the Army priorities of people, readiness and modernization. The installation’s capabilities are unique and vital to the nation, as the workforce leads the advance of armament technologies and engineering innovation for the U.S. military.

Military service can provide a range of intangible benefits. Service members and families alike may greatly enjoy a sense of belonging, a sense of community, camaraderie, and esprit de corps.

The opportunities offered to those who join the military are unmatched, so if you are thinking about joining the Army, visit or call 1-888-550-Army.

Eric Kowal