In the military community, family members are connected and rely on each other. The same is true for the children of military members, who play a large role in this community. April is Military Child Month and we're taking the time to spotlight the experiences of military children.
The military child in 2022
The Department of Defense reports there are currently 1.6 million military children of active-duty members. These are kids who move around the nation with their service member parents, often going to different schools and making new friends at each base. In fact, the average military families move about three times more than civilians according to the School Superintendents Association.
Because of their parent's choice to serve their country, military children have unique experiences that help shape who they will grow up to be. Despite the fact that they often change schools and change support systems, the United States military does its best to provide consistency and support to the military children and their parents.
There are resources provided by the Department of Defense to increase community support and connectivity. The life of a military child can result in many different experiences that the children of civilians can't relate to. Here are some of the different ways that military children are assisted.
Military Kids Connect
Military Kids Connect is a program that aims to support children by offering unique resources for their particular situation. From relationships, feelings, health and overall wellness, there is plenty of information for parents and kids alike. Their website says that their "goal is to enhance military kids' quality of life and help them prepare and cope with significant transitions such as relocations, parental deployment, and family adjustment after injuries."
Boys and Girls Club of America
There are hundreds of Boys and Girls Club of America locations across the country, and all children of active duty, National Guard and reserve parents have a free membership to their local club. This partnership is 30 years old and works to provide "access to specialized opportunities, cultivate lifelong friendships, and develop the necessary resilience to build great futures." Click here to find a club near you.
4-H military partnership
Another great collaboration, the 4-H military partnership helps military children find friends, passions, hobbies and a community across the country. They focus on positive youth development programs and unique learning opportunities that encourage them to be confident leaders. 4-H offers predictable connections to kids who often lead somewhat unpredictable lives, as well as a good environment for military-connected children. 4-H has military liaisons who are the official point of contact between military branches and the organization, which helps the two communities come together to support the youth.
Aid for parents
Whether both parents or just one family member serves the country, it can be hard to know how to help your children cope. The DOD offers several different programs to help parents give their military children the best. Here is a list of just a few of the options that parents have through the government:
Thrive online programs: You can find courses on ways to parent positively through child stress management and health promotion.
Childcare: Military OneSource has a database of accredited childcare centers.
Exceptional Family Member Program: "Use this tool to navigate through the Department of Defense's network of services and support for families with special needs."