America Supports You: Small Grant Sparks Big Celebration
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 26, 2008 A grant of just $163 dollars from a group that supports military families turned out to be a really big deal -- not only for the recipients, but for the granting organization, as well.
The grant put “Our Military Kids,” a group that supports families of deployed or wounded National Guard and reserve members, over the $1 million mark in grants given, said Gail Kruzel, one of the organization’s founders.
This particular grant means that two young sons of Missouri Army National Guard Maj. Matt Bacon, who currently is serving his second tour in Iraq, will get to play baseball in a local league.
The boys -- Jacob, 9, and William, 10 -- will participate in an April 7 ceremony marking their part in Our Military Kids’ milestone.
The ceremony just happens to correspond with a visit to grandparents who live here. The trip was impossible during Bacon’s last deployment, Kruzel said.
“At that time, their grandparents were also serving in Iraq,” she said. “The grandmother, Susan, is with the (Judge Advocate General) Corps in the Army Reserves and now serves at the Pentagon. The granddad, Arthur, just retired as an Army Reserve chaplain.”
As April is “Month of the Military Child,” the ceremony also is designed to recognize military children’s part in the nation’s defense.
“We wanted to recognize the sacrifices everyone in the family makes when a parent is deployed and wanted to acknowledge the children for their role in serving our country,” said Linda Davidson, Our Military Kids’ other founder. “The letters of appreciation from parents and children reinforce the importance of reaching out to support these families during times of deployment.”
Kruzel and Davidson started the organization in October 2004 because they believed there was a need to provide support to the children of reserve and National Guard families who become “sudden military families.” The grants the group awards average $350 and help children play sports, study fine arts, or enroll in tutoring programs while a parent is deployed.
Our Military Kids is a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.