April 1, 2016
April is the Month of the Military Child, a time to recognize the contributions and sacrifice that military children make alongside their military parent. There are currently over 2,000,000 of these children and millions more whose parents are veterans. There are thousands more still who have lost a military parent due to combat-related injury or suicide. These children are like civilian children in a number of ways. They attend public schools, play on local soccer teams and live in communities throughout the country. They play musical instruments, argue with their siblings and do chores around the house. They live in big cities and the smallest of towns. They are four and fourteen, male and female, quiet and outgoing. They are American children, just like any other American children. But there are differences. Children of the military take on responsibilities at home that their civilian peers do not normally take on. They experience long periods of time without their military parent when s/he is deployed, often two, three or even four times. They help care for their military parent when s/he comes home with the wounds of war, both visible and invisible. They move, on average 6-9 times, and change schools as frequently. They live with the pride and knowledge that their military parent is fighting for our freedom and is doing so in harm’s way. Three out of four military children fare well, and in most cases, thrive, attributing their military lifestyle to their maturity, strength and flexibility. However, 25-30% of these children need extra support. They struggle in school and experience anxiety and depression at disproportionate rates. They are also at a higher risk for child maltreatment. All of these risks increase as the total months of deployment increase. The good news is, military children, like their military parents, are resilient and adaptable. And like all children, they benefit from extra supports in the community. For most of these children, staying connected to positive outlets, like extracurricular activities, is all they need to positively navigate a period of deployment or medical recovery. Extracurricular activities- from art to sports to summer camps- provide a positive, structured outlet where children can discover their interests and talents. Furthermore, these activities introduce children to positive adult role models as well as new friends who share the same interests. Our Military Kids is proud to recognize these military children and provide them with the funding to participate in the extracurricular activity of their choosing in their own communities. To date, Our Military Kids has distributed nearly $22 million through 53,000 grants to children throughout the 50 States, U.S. territories and District of Columbia. Our Military Kids has never turned away an eligible child, and the staff works tirelessly to ensure they never will. During this Month of the Military Child and during all the months going forward, let us make a collective commitment to recognize, honor and thank the children who serve our country as part of a military family. Military service is a family affair and no one knows this more than our military kids.