Operation Purple Summer Camp Registration Begins April 15
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 7, 2005 Registration for "Operation Purple" summer camps for children of deployed servicemembers begins April 15 on the National Military Family Association's Web site, program officials announced today.
The 22 Operation Purple camps provide summer camp experiences for more than 2,000 children whose parents are deployed in the U.S. armed forces. The camps are funded through the Sears American Dream Campaign, a $100 million commitment to strengthen families, homes and communities, officials said. The funding by Sears, Roebuck and Co. allows children to attend the camps free of charge.
NMFA officials said Operation Purple is the only summer camp program that focuses on helping children deal with deployment-related issues, and is open to children of personnel from all branches of the U.S. armed forces.
Applications will be available April 15 through May 15 on the NMFA Web site.
NMFA developed Operation Purple camps last year in response to the need for increased support services benefiting children of men and women serving in the armed forces, especially those whose parents are or will be deployed, officials said.
With funding from Sears, Roebuck in 2004, NMFA conducted 12 camps, reaching nearly 1,000 young people. This year, the program has expanded to host more than 2,000 children. NMFA officials estimate that more than 135,000 children are experiencing the absence of a parent due to a deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan, and still others have a parent deployed elsewhere.
"Operation Purple Summer Camps fulfill a critical need in the military community," said Candace Wheeler, NMFA's chief executive officer. "We have been overwhelmed by the messages of support and gratitude we've received from children, parents, the Department of Defense, the National Guard Bureau and members of Congress. We are thrilled to be able to expand the program this year."
A senior Sears official explained why the company is involved. "Sears prides itself on serving the needs of homes and families, and our affiliation with the NMFA provides advocacy programs for the families of men and women actively serving in our armed forces," said Alan J. Lacy, vice chairman and chief executive officer of Sears Holdings Corp. "Our support of the summer camps enables a fabulous developmental experience for thousands of children and enriches the lives of their families."
The camps, which last from five to seven days, give children ages 8 to 18 an exciting and memorable camp experience, providing tools to help them deal with the stress resulting from a parent's deployment, NMFA officials said.
Program officials said interested children from military families are encouraged to apply for the camp located nearest their home. More than 30 weeks of Operation Purple camps are offered in 18 states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah), three international locations (Germany, Italy and Japan) and in Guam. A list of camp dates, sites and other information is available on NMFA's Web site.
The National Military Family Association, a nonprofit organization, focuses solely on the military family, and its stated goal is to influence the development and implementation of policies that will improve the lives of those family members. The association's mission is to serve the families of the seven uniformed services through education, information and advocacy. For more than 35 years its staff and volunteers, made up mostly of military family members, have built a reputation for being the leading experts on military family issues, NFMA officials said.
Sears, Roebuck has a long tradition of support for the men and women of the armed forces and their families dating back to 1916. Today, for qualified Sears, Roebuck employees activated for duty through the National Guard or Reserve, the company pays the difference between the soldiers' Sears, Roebuck salary and military pay and offers extended employment benefits for up to 60 months. Since 2003, Sears, Roebuck has provided NMFA with more than $2 million to address the unique challenges faced by military families.
(From a National Military Family Association news release.)