Month of the Military Kid 2024: Q&A with Madeleine Allen

In recognition of Month of the Military Kid, we’d like to introduce some of our exceptional military kids. Meet Madeleine Allen!

Madeleine Allen holding a Happy Holidays sign and standing in front of a red background.
Caption: Maddie at a Madison VA holiday photo booth in December 2023.

Madeleine “Maddie” Allen is a fourth-year senior majoring in psychology and graduating this May! Outside of academics, Maddie enjoys listening to music, reading romance books, hanging out with friends, and trying coffee shops around Madison. After graduation, Maddie plans to move back to southern California and, eventually, hopes to go to graduate school.

Q: What brought you to UW-Madison?

A: I received a scholarship to attend UW, which was a major factor in my choice. I also wanted to explore a new place and had never lived in the Midwest. In fact, before getting accepted here, I had never actually been to Wisconsin. I also enjoy colder weather. I had never lived anywhere that got much snow, and I wanted to go to college near water, so UW-Madison was the perfect place for me!

Q: To be a military kid means to have a direct family connection to someone who has served or is currently serving, often a parent or guardian. Can you share more about who in your life made you a military kid?

A: Yep! My mom, Captain Colleen Glaser-Allen (Retired), was part of the Judge Advocate General Corps (JAGC) in the U.S. Navy for 25 years. Her last job was as Chief Judge of the Navy-Marine Corps Trial Judiciary. She was on active duty from September 1995 to December 2020. After she retired, our family moved to southern California, where we now call home.

Q: What have you learned from being a military kid?

A: I have learned about being adaptable and getting along with new people from being a military kid. Making new friends, being at different schools, and all the other things I’ve experienced as part of my family moving because of my mom’s orders have helped me become more flexible and open to new ideas, beliefs, and experiences. I also have gained a much more global perspective as a result of being a military kid. My family did two overseas tours and lived at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan both times. While there, we were lucky enough to travel around Asia. I got to visit so many cool places, which helped to open my eyes to some of the other wonderful, rich cultures outside of the U.S. that I might’ve not seen otherwise.

Madeleine sitting with her mom and dog outside on a bench.
Caption: Maddie and her mom, USN Captain (Retired) Colleen Glaser-Allen, sitting by the beach to watch the sunset with one of their dogs, Gigi.

Q: Depending on your personal experiences, growing up as a military kid may or may not be a large part of your identity. Would you say your experiences as a military kid are unique? If so, can you share why?

A: Being a part of a military family is a big part of my identity and is something I’m very proud of. I don’t know that my experiences within the military kid community are super unique – I’m sure other folks have moved quite a few times, lived overseas, or had a parent deployed like I have, but I think that having my mom be a servicemember was unique. It was really cool to see my mom—who was already in the male-dominated field of law—succeed in the even more male-dominated environment of the military.

I would say that being part of a military family has had a pretty huge impact on my life, such as moving 10 times before I graduated high school, living overseas for about four years, and being in-country when a major natural disaster occurred (Tohoku earthquake/tsunami & Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011). Even now, in college, I’m influenced by these experiences; I’ve been researching veterans’ mental health at the Madison VA since April 2023. In the future, I’d like to study the mental health experiences of servicemembers and dependents as a factor of the military lifestyle. Needless to say, growing up as a military kid is a pretty large part of my identity.

Q: What do you wish more people knew about being a military kid?

Madeleine with her mom and sister standing in front of a building.
Caption: (L-R) Maddie, her younger sister, Mac, and their mom pictured getting dinner in San Diego. Mac is a junior at UC San Diego and a midshipman in Navy ROTC; she will commission in spring 2025, following in her mom’s footsteps.

A: I wish more people realized that being a military kid doesn’t make us super different from anyone else. Sure, there are certain things we might have experienced that non-military kids are less likely to have, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t relate to each other. Connected to this, I wish people realized that there isn’t just “one military kid/family” experience. For example, I moved a bunch when I was younger, and that’s definitely something I would say is a hallmark of my specific military family; however, some military families move very little (if at all), and kids from those families may say moving was a much smaller part of their experience. This is just one example, but our experiences as military kids can vastly vary. I think it would be nice for more folks to know that, like many things, there is not a “one size fits all” experience of being part of a military family. At the end of the day, we’re still just people, and being a military kid is but one of the many identities we hold.