Military Children Deserve Nation’s Gratitude
By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 1, 2011 Military children continually rise to the challenges of military life and deserve the nation’s gratitude for doing so, a Defense Department official said today.
“We applaud their character and maturity, and we acknowledge that kids serve too,” Robert L. Gordon III, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy, wrote in a blog today titled “Month of the Military Child: Kids Serve Too.”
Each April, Americans pause to recognize the contributions and sacrifices of the nation’s 1.8 million military children and youth during Month of the Military Child.
“It’s a life of frequent moves, changing schools, leaving friends and making new friends,” Gordon wrote.
Gordon highlighted a few of the Defense Department’s programs intended to support military families and children.
The department, for example, is working with state officials to develop the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, Gordon said, which is designed to ease school transitions and to support children through deployments. The compact provides common guidelines for participating states to follow in handling issues such as enrollment age, records transfer and graduation requirements.
So far, 35 states have adopted the compact, which encompasses 88 percent of military school-age children, he said.
The department also is working to increase access to quality, affordable child care, Gordon said, acknowledging the child care issues that may arise when a family lives away from an installation, or when an installation isn’t able to meet the demand for care.
The Defense Department’s child care expansion initiative is a step toward answering this growing need, Gordon said. The initiative, he explained, is intended to increase access to quality child care in the communities where military families reside.
A new, 365-page guide offers families support during deployments, he said. The Military Deployment Guide covers a wide range of issues related to deployment, with chapters dedicated to helping children cope with separations and adjustments when the deployed parent comes home.
Additionally, Gordon wrote, installations around the world offer a wide range of activities for military children at child care centers, youth centers, clubs and camps.
Gordon praised the efforts of the volunteers who are providing vital support to these programs.
“I see the enormous amount of good done by the hands and hearts of volunteers,” he wrote. “Their selfless work changes lives and strengthens our nation.”
Gordon encouraged people to volunteer this month at one of the many organizations dedicated to military children. He suggested people visit Serve.gov at http://www.serve.gov to find volunteer opportunities or to create their own. They also can share their volunteer stories on Serve.gov’s Facebook wall at http://www.facebook.com/serve.
“Children are first in the mind of their parents, and during Month of the Military Child, we hope they become first in the minds of their communities as well,” he wrote.