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3: COMMUNITY

We’re your neighbors.

Less than ten percent of the 1.2 million children of service members attend Department of Defense schools. They play sports, join clubs, and attend school in your neighborhood. Also, there are more than 700,000 National Guard and Reserve kids who might never live on or near a military installation. Because military families often live far from extended relatives, they look within their community for friendship and support, especially during long deployments, so it’s a good idea to know who they are. Of course, military kids are like any other kids—they don’t know that much about what mom or dad does for work. Here are a few ways to get to know your military neighbors, without using a spotlight:

“Being a part of a military family is a lot of hard work.”
  • Include questions about military demographics in your organization’s sign-up forms or registration papers. Track this for informational purposes and for documentation when you are eligible for programs that subsidize heavily military-affected areas.
  • Create a military resource center in your organization and discover who taps into it. Then, get to know them.
  • Post a clock in the room that displays military time. It will start a discussion; learn who knows who might be able to explain it to the room.
  • Celebrate military-themed seasons. April is the Month of the Military Child. May hosts National Military Appreciation Month; November is Military Family Month. Then there’s Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day… you get the idea.
  • Contact the Military Family Research Institute for a kit to create a Hero Tree. This resource for librarians includes educational tools and guidance on how they can recognize their local service members in the
    local community.

Resources:

Military Impacted Schools Association (MISA) is a national organization of school superintendents that works on funding (Impact Aid), legislation, partnerships and programs for military families on the move. Visit www.militarystudent.org for more information.

Military Brats and Other Global Nomads: Growing Up in Organization Families by Morten Ender, sociology professor at West Point Military Academy is a collection of research about military families with perspectives from adults who grew up in the Service.