Military Child Month Salutes Children’s Contributions
By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 1, 2013 During April’s Month of the Military Child, the Defense Department recognizes the support provided by and sacrifices made by military children, said Barbara Thompson, director of DOD’s office of family policy/children and youth.
Since 1983, DOD has recognized military children for the support they provide to their families. There are now 1.8 million children in the military system, Thompson said.
“Military children, youth and teens are an integral part of their military parent because they stand by them, they’re proud of them, they recognize their sacrifices and they take on additional responsibilities to meet the needs of their families,” she said.
Military children also receive national-level recognition, Thompson said. Following a presidential study directive in January 2011, she said, the cabinet secretaries signed a letter of support from their departments to military communities.
Based on that directive, DOD has partnered with the Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services to increase the availability of high-quality child care off the installation, she said, adding that 66 percent of military families live off base.
Thompson said she hopes civilian communities will also reach out to military children.
“Our military children are embedded in their school systems and their neighborhoods,” she said.
Military installations will celebrate the Month of the Military Child with activities such as parades, face painting, carnivals and other events that children enjoy, Thompson said. Activities information, she said, will be available through base newspapers, youth centers, child development center and family support centers.
Even though the number of children with a deployed parent has decreased because of the U.S. military’s drawdown in Afghanistan, military families continue to face deployments, humanitarian missions and training, Thompson said.
Regardless of the mission, military families are separated during times of holidays and children’s birthdays, she said.
“That’s why we recognize that children serve, too,” Thompson said.