|By William Bradner, Installation Management Command
The “Month of the Military Child” will be observed throughout April at
Army installations. This year’s theme, developed by the Army Teen Panel,
is “Military Kids: Heroes for the Future.”
Ashley Hayes, a Child Development
Center (CDC) staff member, helps CDC children hang red, white
and blue crepe paper/ribbons on a fence near the facility to
honor the contributions and sacrifices of military children
during the Month of the Military Child.
(Photo by Rob Schuette)
The Month of the Military Child creates awareness of the service —
and sacrifices — of the military’s children. It is an opportunity to
thank children for their support to the nation’s war fighters, and
recognize the important role they play in the strength of the nation by
contributing to the strength of the Army Family.
The Army recognizes and appreciates the sacrifices military children
make daily, and is committed to maintaining excellence in schools, youth
services and child care to support Army children and their Families.
More than 1.7 million children have at least one parent serving in the
military. An estimated 900,000 children have had one or both parents
deployed multiple times over the last 10 years.
“Now that troop strength in combat is being drawn down, there’s a
tendency to just breathe a sigh of relief and think things will all go
back to normal,” said Lisa Hamlin, Child, Youth and School Services
Director at the Installation Management Command.
However, many child-development and mental-health experts believe
military children may need support now, more than ever.
Many are now dealing with a new reality. Often added to their burden is
adjustment to a parent who’s returned home with severe wounds,
post-traumatic stress, or other medical issues.
“In many cases, the simple fact that mom or dad is now home, and the
Family dynamic has changed, can have a big impact in a child’s life,”
Taking a moment to thank military kids for their service, and the
sacrifices they’ve made during 10 years of conflict, Hamlin said, is a
simple way to remind everyone that as resilient as they’ve proven to be,
military children still need support.
Garrisons around the world are developing events and celebrations
designed to recognize the sacrifices military children make and the
support they provide to their Soldier-parent(s) and Families.
At Fort McCoy, the Child, Youth and School (CYS) Services program is
observing and celebrating April as the Month of the Military Child with
activities and events.
The Child Development Center (CDC) and School Age Center both had
“Breakfast and a Book” events, which allowed parents to read to their
children. A communitywide “Purple UP! For Military Kids” event is April
13, and members of the Fort McCoy community are encouraged to wear
purple to support military children.
Other CDC activities will include walks, a visit by Mother Goose to read
to the children, a visit by Freddy the Fire Truck, several special
clothing days, and the Arbor Day tree planting April 27.
The SAC works the theme of Month of the Military Child into all of its
activities during the month, said Cori Yahnke, Fort McCoy CYS Services
Boys & Girls Club of Fort McCoy School Age & Youth Center Director. The
youth attended full days of events during their spring break for Easter
from April 5 through April 10.
Character COUNTS! values were incorporated into all of the events
because it helps teach the children to be respectful and thankful of the
sacrifices military youth and Families make every day.
“It is a way to celebrate our pride and patriotism for our country,”
Yahnke said. “That is all directly related to the Character COUNTS!
pillars of respect, caring, responsibility, and citizenship.”