April is the Month of the Military Child, a time set aside to recognize the country’s 1.9 million military children and the important contributions and sacrifices they make on behalf of the nation. Many American Red Cross chapters across the country have events planned to honor and support military children.
Established by Caspar Weinberger, Secretary of Defense during the Reagan administration, the Month of the Military Child is observed in April to let the country’s military children know their sacrifices are appreciated. They face many challenges, such as frequent moves, changing schools, making new friends, and the most difficult - separation from a parent who is deployed. This includes children whose parent is a member of the National Guard or Reserves. Of the 1.9 million military children, 765,000 have active duty parents and as many as 225,000 have a parent who is currently deployed.
In Colorado, Red Cross employees, volunteers and supporters will wear purple to show their support for the thousands of military children in Colorado as part of the “Purple Up For Military Kids” celebration, sponsored by Operation Military Kids (OMK). Also on tap: a Red Cross essay contest in partnership with the Colorado National Guard Youth Program, a youth job fair at Peterson Air Force Base and a summer youth program and health and safety fair at Fort Carson.
In Connecticut, Red Cross workers will also wear purple to show their support for military children. They recently participated in an Operation Awareness resource fair by OMK, providing families with first aid and emergency preparedness information. In the coming months, the Red Cross in Connecticut will support a Family Fun boot camp and other military kid camp events.
In Mississippi, Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) volunteers met with members of the state’s Army National Guard at a pre-deployment event. During the event, the Red Cross recognized the military children on hand by giving them teddy bears. Families also learned about what services the Red Cross provides through its SAF program, and what additional resources are available to help them during their parents’ deployment.Red Cross volunteer Bonnie Warf meets with Army National Guard member Bobby Zinn during a pre-deployment event in Mississippi. Children of military members received teddy bears donated by B’nai B’rith of Memphis, Tennessee. Photo Credit: Kim Motschman Cribb/American Red Cross JaBarri and Jameel Williams enjoy their teddy bears at Army National Guard Yellow Ribbon pre-deployment event in Mississippi. Photo Credit: Kim Motschman Cribb/American Red Cross
In North Carolina, more than 100 children attended an Easter egg hunt hosted by the Red Cross Cape Fear Chapter for children ranging from tiny toddlers to fifth grade students and some adults with special needs. The youngsters received candy and prizes, as well as coloring books and informational packets.
The Red Cross provides emergency communications between members of the military and their families, access to financial assistance in partnership with the military aid societies, information and referral services and assistance to veterans. Information on all SAF programs, including “Coping with Deployment” and “Reconnection Workshops” is available on the Red Cross web site.