April marks the Month of the Military Child. Former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger deemed it such in 1986 and since then, increasing numbers of individuals and organizations create ways to recognize the youngest members of our military families. With the prolonged war involvement of the past decade, the families of warriors are asked to be more resilient than ever. According to recent statistics, there are 1.9 million military kids and 225,000 of those kids have a deployed parent.
Studies have been conducted during recent years to determined the impact of military life on military kids. These studies and the infomation culled from them can focus on everything from resiliency of military children, to what can happen when resiliency isn't present, or even how teens are affected by their parents' service. As responsibilities have increased, it appears challenges do as well.
I doubt that Sec. Weinberger could have anticipated what the Month of the Military Child 2012 would look like, but it's clear the military children have more than earned their month in the sun. Activities and other special events are planned to help our military "brats" make some happy memories. All this month, MCN will feature information on these opportunities and the fun starts today!
Operation Military Kids maintains a website with a running log of activities down its right sidebar. Many of the featured activities offer links to other sites where families can see if the event or activity is available to them in their local area. By clicking on your state on this map, the sidebar will offer up links to activties, camps and events within your home state. Googling "Month of the Military Child" and the name of your home state will also turn up unique events and opportunities. And, if you live on an installation, check the MWR/family section of your installation's website to discover the ways kids will be recognized this month.
The Operation Free Ride program provides a chance for military families to experience horseback riding. The "free ride" can be in many forms--from walking around an exercise ring to a trail ride. The site offers a map to check availability and the ability to reserve a ride. Riding a horse can be an exciting change of pace for kids who do not routinely experience such an activity. The gentle giants with big brown eyes can make fast friends with even the toughest kid customer.
United Through Reading provides the opportunity for a deployed service member to read a book to the military children awaiting his/her safe return. This program operates all through the year and it's military focused program is well explained. It would be a wonderful way to honor a military child in your life to take advantage of this service. If your service member is home to do the reading in person, consider making a donation to the organization to help keep the goodness going for those who would enjoy it.
Perhaps your kids have spring break coming up during April and you'd like to work in some Month of the Military Child fun into your break time.
On Saturday, April 14, 2012, The National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia will host a Family Day. Many organizations will be onsite offering information on resources available to military families and their children. Additionally, the museum will offer "puppet shows, book readings, a LEGO display, face painting, and visits by Museum Mascot, Chesty."
If your community has an event honoring military children this month, put it in comments or send me an e-mail or Facebook message
. We'll make sure others learn about it!