Celebrate Military Kids During April, Month of the Military Child!
A couple of days after an overseas PCS move, I wandered into my teen’s room to find him in the midst of hanging up his favorite posters— boxes and belongings completely unpacked, bed made neatly.
While this scenario might be a surprising occurrence to parents of typical teens, it wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary for many military families. Our kids become experts at moving and quickly adjusting to life in a new location.
We’re also well aware of the other challenges our military kids face at a young age: the deployments and separations from a parent, being the “new kid” repeatedly, and constantly adjusting to the challenges of military life. We owe much to our country’s youngest heroes.
Pat Conroy, one of America’s greatest authors and a "military brat" himself, once penned, “We spent our entire childhoods in the service of our country, and no one even knew we were there.” Thankfully, I think we've come a long way from his childhood days.
If yours is a military family, you probably know that April is designated the Month of the Military Child. How will you celebrate your kids this month?
A Little History
April gives us an opportunity to recognize and honor the service of military children. In 1986, then Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger designated April as the Month of the Military Child to remind us of the significant role military children play in our communities and nation, and to give our country the opportunity to celebrate them.
In 2011, Operation Military Kids started the “Purple Up! for Military Kids” initiative that is now celebrated nationwide and on military installations across the world. People are encouraged to wear purple on April 15 each year to recognize and honor military children.
Why purple? Purple is the color that symbolizes all branches of the military, as it combines Army green, Marine Red, and Coast Guard, Air Force, and Navy blue. Wearing purple lets military youth visibly witness the support of their communities.
Ideas for Supporting Military Children
We've shared many ideas and resources here on this blog that help support our military kids, including Do You Know About These Resources for Military Kids? and more below.
Another great resource is Military OneSource (DoD funded). Here are a few more ideas!
Improve Their Move
Military children move on average six to nine times during their school careers, and while we all know how resilient they are, I don’t think it ever gets “easy.” If your military kids are like mine, they've dealt with more changes in their short lives than others deal with over several decades, including being the "new kid" over and over.
While we can't change the reality and likelihood of military relocation, there are a few things we as parents can do to help our kids cope with the upheaval of moving. See Help Your Military Kids Through the PCS Transition for some tips if you're facing a PCS move.
Ease Their Stress
Deployments and relocations can be tough on children, and kids will need help coping with these big life events. Learn from and connect with resources and licensed counselors specializing in military life challenges. A good place to start: Making the Move Easier for Military Children.
Connect with Other Military Kids!
Find summer camps especially for military kids, including Military Teen Adventure Camps and deployment support camps.
Operation Purple Camps is sponsored by the National Military Family Association. These FREE one-week camps are designed just for military kids. With trained counselors on hand who are well-versed in coping skills for military life, your child could make connections to last a lifetime.
There's nothing like a friend who understands. Here are more ways to connect your child with another military child:
How will you celebrate your military kids during the Month of the Military Child? We'd love to hear your ideas!