MARCH 31, 2016 – Join us, the Department of Defense, and the military community in celebrating April as the Month of the Military Child. Established by then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger in 1986, the month recognizes some 2 million U.S. military children ranging in age from infants to 18 years old who have one or both parents serving in the armed forces.
Permanent-change-of-station moves, deployments and training activities, among other facets of military life, can present unique challenges to children who must constantly adjust to distance, unfamiliarity and uncertain schedules. There are a variety of programs to help military children overcome these challenges.
For example, the Child Development Program offers child care up to age 12. Similarly, youth development programs offer older children opportunities for recreation, and character, social and emotional development. Parents, too, have resources to help best guide and nurture their children of all ages. The New Parents Support Program helps parents during pregnancy and childbirth, and children up to 3 years of age, to reach their full potential through home visitations and parent support groups.
Military OneSource is another resource available 24/7, 365 days a year, to support parents to learn more about parenting skills, as well as to find support for themselves. It also offers telephonic, face-to-face, online and video nonmedical and financial counseling, which she described as “strengthening pillars” for military households separated from extended family or settling into a new environment.
Family support has evolved over the last 40 years to become the family readiness system, which is a collaborative network of agencies, programs, services and professionals who promote the readiness and quality of life of military families both on installations and in the community.
Numerous events ranging from picnics and parades to recreational fairs and fun festivals are planned all month to recognize and applaud families and their children for the daily sacrifices they make in support of our Military.
The following are just a few of the many programs out there that have helped many military families survive during deployment:
- Your installation’s office of Child and Youth Services may offer programs or services geared for children of deployed service members.
- Military OneSource offers a wide range of resources to help kids through deployment. The site features articles with tips on staying connected through a deployment and reintegration and links to other valuable resources. Families can also order free age-appropriate books and videos to help kids understand and communicate their feelings about deployment.
- United Through Reading is a free service that records service members reading a book to their children. The DVD is then sent to the service member’s family, so kids can experience Mom or Dad reading them a bedtime story even when they’re far away.
- Sesame Workshop produced a video and online guide to support young children through the deployment of a parent. The program, called Talk, Listen, Connect is free to families through Military OneSource.
- Military Kids Connect is an online community for military children (ages 6-17) that provides access to age-appropriate resources to support children dealing with the unique psychological challenges of military live. The site was created by the National Center for Telehealth & Technology, a Department of Defense agency, and features secure discussion boards where military kids can connect with others who know what it’s like to have a parent deployed.
Join us in recognizing the military children and youth for their heroism, character, courage, sacrifices and continued resilience. We thank you for your sacrifice!