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April 13, 2012

Observances

April is Month of the Military Child: Observances being held throughout Army

By William Bradner, Installation Management Command Public Affairs

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.”
PHOTO: 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
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,” Hamlin said.

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.”

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