April brings the rain, flowers, and the long dreamed of spring season. It’s also the month dedicated to the military child. Right now, there are around 1.2 million children of active duty service members across the globe. There are 716,879 children of those serving in the reserves. These children are world travelers, expert friend makers, and some of the most resilient humans you’ll ever meet.
The average military child will move upwards of 10 times in their life. My own nine year old son has lived in five states in his short life. The older he gets, the harder the moves are on him.
With him being a Coast Guard kid, we very rarely live on a base or around other coastie kids. This means he’s almost always starting at a civilian school with kids who have been together forever. In fact, 80% of military kids are actually in the public school system. It’s not easy.
The frequent moves and stressors of having a deployed parent weigh on these children. Since 2001, 2 million children have experienced deployment. These kids never had a choice, they were born into their parent’s service to the nation.
One third of these kids show signs of anxiety.
When the public says “thank you for your service”, they should really also extend those same words of gratitude to the spouses and children. While they do not deploy or fight for this country – they maintain the home and sacrifice so much in the name of American freedom. So, what can we do? The studies agree, building resiliency is key.
Talking about the difficulties and engaging with these children is the start to building resiliency. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger established April as the Month of the Military Child in 1986. Since that day, there has been a worldwide awareness campaign during the month of April to recognize the needs of military children and find ways to celebrate them and their sacrifices.
Although we should celebrate them all year long, April is absolutely their month. Since purple is the color to reference all branches of service, this color is utilized for the month of the military child too. “Purple Up” is something you will see on military bases all over the world as we come together to celebrate these incredible kids. So, what can you do to celebrate month of the military child?
If you happen to live near a military installation, there will be events throughout April celebrating these kids. This could look like a special party or even something as big as a carnival. For the month, most bases will go all out celebrating these kids. Check with your local base and see what they are offering.
Many public schools near bases will be well aware of this special month and have things planned to celebrate the military child. There will be a lot of education and activities surrounding the life of a military child for their civilian peers. If there isn’t a celebration? Work with the school to create one. Click here for a special toolkit to support this.
Talk to your kids about how important and loved they are. Encourage them to wear purple and be proud of their status as a military kid. Focus on all of the positive things that they have in their lives because their parent serves. Build them up!
While they may miss out on living near family or growing up with the same children throughout their school years – open their eyes to the incredible life they do get to live. Take this month to talk about and focus on all the positive things about being a military child.
There’s a saying for the military child, they bloom where they are planted – which is why their symbol can often be associated with the dandelion. This is because their seeds can put down roots anywhere they land. Home is where their heart is, feed and nourish that.
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