Each year as our thoughts turn to spring and the boundless outdoor energy of our nation’s youth, the military community focuses its attention on the tireless efforts exemplified by military families. April is the "Month of the Military Child."
Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger in 1986 designated each April as the month to formerly recognize the contribution that the military child makes as their parent or parents serve our nation.
Nearly 30 years later, these noble efforts are still going strong, particularly in light of the Post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the challenges increasingly shouldered by military families, and older service members from the National Guard and Reserve.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s own Education Activity program (DoDEA) is fully behind these efforts to recognize the children of military families. Throughout the month, DoDEA encourages its own schools to plan events that recognize and show appreciation for our military children. DoDEA operates 191 schools in 14 districts located in 12 foreign countries, seven states, Guam, and Puerto Rico. All schools within DoDEA are fully accredited by U.S. accreditation agencies. Approximately 8,700 educators serve more than 86,000 DoDEA students.
"We know that military children face many challenges that are unique to their situation, such as having a parent deployed for extended periods of time and moving frequently. Deployments and family separations can be stressful times for children," the DoD notes on its website.
"We feel it’s important for the nation to know that military children also serve their country," said Barbara Thompson, the DOD’s director of the office of family policy/children and youth, in an interview with the Pentagon Channel.
With the unique role of military children in mind, the DoD has created the New Parent Support Program, a voluntary home-visiting program aimed at helping parents-to-be or those with young children adapt to parenthood through classes, community support groups and other forms of instruction.