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Our Military Kids (Washington, D.C.)
As Prepared for Delivery by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Washington, D.C., Monday, April 07, 2008

        Thank you for that kind introduction. I appreciate the opportunity to be here to help celebrate the “Month of the Military Child,” a nation-wide program initiated over twenty years ago by Secretary Casper Weinberger.
        While our servicemen and women may be called to pay the highest price, their families – and their children in particular – make a significant or substantial sacrifice as well. Military children may experience a deep sense of loss when they have a parent serving far from home. It is difficult for a young child to see their friend’s dad attending parent-teacher day at school or another’s mom attending a violin recital or a little league game. Organizations like this one help our military kids feel special and loved.
        “Our Military Kids” was one of the first members of America Supports You, a Defense Department program that uniquely partners with private citizens and corporations to help meet the needs of our service members. Three years ago, “Our Military Kids” provided its first grant award; today, it has awarded more than one million dollars.
        Reaching across all fifty states, this organization has enabled nearly 3,000 children to participate in activities ranging from judo to ice hockey, from theater to dance, and from math class to driver’s ed. Its future goal is no less ambitious: to provide grants to the estimated 70,000 children of our Reserve and National Guard families. Please accept my heart-felt gratitude for organizations like “Our Military Kids” who make a tremendous difference in the lives of America’s youngest heroes.
        I would also like to recognize the nearly 1.3 million Guard and Reserve personnel serving today. Since coming back to Washington after nearly 15 years, I’ve been struck by the many changes in the government and military. One of the most dramatic shifts has been in the role of our citizen-soldiers. Once largely considered a strategic reserve, they now deploy regularly in support of our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Currently over 90,000 of our Guardsmen and Reservists are mobilized.
        The Bacon family, which you will hear more about in a moment, exemplifies the patriotism and dedication of our reserve forces. We simply could not perform the duties asked of us by the Commander-in-Chief without their service and sacrifice, as well as that of thousands of American families.
        Thank you.