April is Month of the Military Child – Let’s Celebrate!

In 1986, when Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger designated each April as “The Month of the Military Child,” could he have imagined how much his vision for celebrating the contributions and inspiration of military children would have played out 27 years later? In 1986, like today, military families rose to meet whatever was asked of them, but their children were not recognized separately. At that time, the assumption was that our military kids were dealing with the same challenges, successes, and disappointments that any other kid might encounter.

Because of Secretary Weinberger’s proclamation, today we pause to officially recognize our military kids – for their accomplishments and resilience. The global conflicts since 9/11 have made it a new day – for so many military families and their children. In response to parents asking for help, the National Military Family Association launched the Operation Purple® summer camp program in 2004 to help reduce the stress military kids were experiencing. Stress from their service member parent or guardian being in a war zone, stress from the ever-present media coverage, stress related to the separation from a loved one, and stress from feeling so alone.

These past ten years of Operation Purple camp have allowed more than 47,000 military children from across the Nation and world to have the chance to meet other kids like them in a camp setting where they can be celebrated for being a military kid. At camp, military children create a “Wall of Honor” so each child can talk about their special family member. They share the “top ten things” they love about being a military child or being at camp.  They talk with each other about what bothers them and what makes them tick. All of these activities integrate into the usual camp fare of rock climbing, swimming, hiking, campfires, you name it.

Ten years have passed and we never expected to be in this market for this long. Thanks to the past generosity from Sears, Roebuck and Company, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, the Sierra Club Foundation, Goldman Sachs Gives, and countless individual donors, we have been able to serve our military kids. And while we didn’t expect to do this as long as we have, what we do know that we can’t leave just yet. Our kids are too important to our future – for all of us – whether we are connected to the military or to a civilian community.

As we celebrate our military children this April, the work continues. We want to use this month to not only acknowledge how strong military kids are, but to also focus on supporting them through the struggles they encounter due to the lifestyle that comes with being a part of the military. These kids are our future. Thank you, Secretary Weinberger, for bringing this awareness through the proclamation so many years ago. Now it is up to all of us to make sure we keep our military kids safe, loved and celebrated – not only in April but through the entire year!

To celebrate kids throughout this month, our Association will be featuring military kids on our Facebook page and website. We will post videos, photos, and quotes from military kids around the country.

On behalf of the National Military Family Association, we thank you and your children for their service and sacrifice. Together we’re stronger.

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