Month of the Military Child
Updated: May 1
Written by Tara Uhrich, Project Analyst at Giesler LLC
April is the Month of the Military Child. As a child of a retired military service member, I feel a strong connection to the 1.6 million military children of service members currently serving worldwide.
The Month of the Military Child was established in 1986 by former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger in order to raise awareness of the challenges and sacrifices that military children face as a part supporting members of their family that serve their country. This can include dealing with frequent moves, long separations from loved ones, and the stresses of having a parent who is deployed. It takes extraordinary resilience and courage to have a parent in the military:
Military children move an average every two to three years, more than 3 times their civilian peers
Military children are more likely to experience anxiety and depression than their civilian peers
Children from military families are about twice as likely as their civilian counterparts to serve in the Armed Forces as adults
Military children show more tolerance and resourcefulness and are able to adapt to change more quickly and easily than others
Life as a Military Brat
Some of my earliest memories are of visiting my dad at his duty stations in the 90s. From visiting him aboard the USS Puget Sound while he was the XO - I had to take great big steps over the bulkheads to get from room to room. He would send us cassette tapes of him reading us bedtime stories and communicating via snail mail when he was in ports. To later walking around what felt like a maze through the Pentagon, with every door looking the same. To moving across the state in the middle of my second-grade year and starting at a new school in a new town. And who can forget the stack after stack of papers in his office in Chesapeake (The stacks were super organized – he knew where everything was!)? Change of Command ceremonies to his retirement ceremony in 2005, all stick out in my childhood. Even with all the hardships of having a parent away so often, I have always felt pride – in my dad’s service and my connection to the Navy through him.
This Year and Further Resources
To celebrate military children this month, there are a few things you can do:
Wear purple: Purple is the color that represents military children, so wearing purple is a great way to show your support
Write letters or send care packages to deployed service members: This shows support for military families and remind them that they are not alone
Donate to military support organizations: There are many organizations that support military families, such as the National Military Family Association and the Fisher House Foundation. Consider making a donation to one of these organizations to show your support.
Share some of the amazing resources for military families out there: There are many great resources out there, here is just one from Military One Source.
Additionally, the Department of Defense announced last month six new measures to help the well-being of service members and their families, including:
Universal Prekindergarten at DoD Education (DoDEA) Schools
Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) for Service Members
New Military Parental Leave Benefits
Improvements to the Exceptional Family Member Program
Expanded Spouse Eligibility for My Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) Financial Assistance
And Portability and Best Practices for Professional Licenses.
Being a military child isn’t always easy. But recognizing the challenges they face, families, friends, schools, neighbors, and communities can come together to make their time just a little bit easier.