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Teen Steps Up to Help Family

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky., April 23, 2010 – Chelsea Jarvis prefers to stay busy, rather than focus on her military father’s frequent absences.

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Chelsea Jarvis, 17, prepares for class at Fort Campbell High School on Fort Campbell, Ky., April 15, 2010. DoD photo by Elaine Wilson

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Chelsea’s father, Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Adam Jarvis, is a member of a Special Forces unit here. He often deploys for months at a time.

She’s hard-pressed to remember how many times her father has deployed, but guesses it’s more than 10.

“I never remember it being a big deal,” said Chelsea, a 17-year-old junior who attends Fort Campbell High School here. “It’s his job; I’m not going to get emotional about it, because it puts food on the table. I’m not going to say I don’t care, but it’s just something you have to get used to.”

Chelsea said she’s used to the military lifestyle; her father joined the Army before she was born and she has always lived on a post. She has moved four times, and her family has been stationed at Fort Campbell for eight years, so far.

Chelsea knows that her father’s job is dangerous, but rather than dwell on the negative, she instead chooses to stay busy. She’s a member of the volleyball team, manages the wrestling team and is heavily involved in academic clubs. She’s also grateful to be living and attending school on post, where she’s buoyed by the support of understanding peers and teachers.

“If I always focus on what could happen, than you can’t go on with life,” she said. “I focus on what I’m doing here.”

She not only pitches in at school, she steps up at home.

Chelsea often helps her mother, Catherine Jarvis, with her special-needs brother, Jacob. Jacob has hydrocephalus, which causes fluid in the brain. At age 13, he already has undergone seven brain surgeries and is unable to talk.

Chelsea assists with everything at home, from changing to bathing to watching her brother. “My mother can’t do it by herself,” she said. “I’m there to help. It’s just something we do.”

Her father’s work has inspired her to join the Army and her brother has inspired her to pursue medicine. She hopes to become an Army trauma surgeon or a neurosurgeon.

The military has given her family a good life, she said, and she’s appreciative of that, despite the frequent separations from her father.

“When he’s home, he makes time for me and that means a lot,” she said. “I’m proud of him and his job. What he does is really hard.”

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