The Month of April offers us a special opportunity to acknowledge and honor the service of our littlest heroes, our military children. Established by Caspar Weinberger, the Month of the Military Child recognizes the important role military children play in our communities.
There are approximately 1.9 million military children, ranging in ages from newborn to 18 years old, 1.3 million military children are school-aged. Approximately 225,000 of our military children have a parent who is currently deployed. More than 700,000 children have experienced the deployment of one or more parents since 2001.
Our military children are resilient and proud of their service, and they deserve our support. The Department of Defense, each of our Armed Services, Cabinet Agencies, the White House Joining Forces Initiative, as well as non-profits, businesses and communities throughout the country recognize this and have stepped up to provide a variety of special programs, initiatives and activities for our military kids. To learn more, visit some of the links below.
The Department of Defense provides a wealth of resources and support for parents and military kids. Parents can find information on education, child care, and exceptional family member support on the Military Homefront and MilitaryOneSource web sites. Military kids can find tips on moving and adapting to a new town and school on DoD’s Military Youth on the Move site. Additionally, the DoD hosted Military Kids Connect site (www.militarykidsconnect.dcoe.mil) lets military kids connect with each other in a safe online environment and share their experiences.
Military kids who love to read can share their favorite book by participating in the Blue Star Families Books on Bases Essay Contest. Visit www.bluestarfam.org for more information.
Reading creates a special bond between parents and children, and United Through Reading makes it possible to maintain that bond even through deployment, by providing children with DVDs of their deployed parent reading their favorite books. Visit http://www.unitedthroughreading.org/ for more information.
Operation Homefront highlights the incredible contributions our military kids make to their communities through its annual Military Child of the Year recognition program. To read the stories of these extraordinary young leaders, visit the Military Child of the Year page at www.operationhomefront.org.
Like all kids, military kids look forward to summer and all the fun times the season brings. The National Military Family Association’s (NMFA) Operation Purple Camps (www.militaryfamily.org) empower military children and their families to develop and maintain healthy and connected relationships with incredible outdoor experiences. NMFA also provides unique retreats for children of wounded warriors. Likewise, the Armed Services YMCA salutes our military kids in April and all year round with a variety of youth programs. Visit www.asymca.org for more information.
For children of Reservists, Guard members and wounded warriors, ourmilitarykids.org provides grants to pursue a variety of extracurricular activities. This month some of these kids will get a chance to showcase the talents they have acquired before Senior Officials and Members of Congress in Washington at the annual “Celebration of Our Military Kids’ Star Power.”
Military kids have some great fans in sports…the San Diego Padres will honor military children at a home game as part of their military appreciation program, which honors service members and their families throughout the season. Visit www.sandiego.padres.mlb.com/sd/military/ for more information.
Coping with a wounded parent, or worse, the loss of a parent is one of the sad realities of military life and these are circumstances many of our military kids have had to face over 10 years of conflict. To support military children through these experiences, Sesame Workshop has developed the Talk, Listen and Connect Series. Military children on installations throughout the country and the world can see Sesame Street when they hit the road on their annual tour with the USO. For a tour schedule, visit the USO’s Sesame Street/USO Experience page.
The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) offers comfort to military children whose parents have made the ultimate sacrifice through their Good Grief Camps, which teach kids how to cope with loss and connect with others to share experiences. To ensure our children of the fallen have educational opportunities, organizations like the Freedom Alliance provide scholarships for military kids who have lost a parent in combat.
Disclaimer: The appearance of web links throughout the story does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of those websites or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DoD website.