April 18 special during 'Month of the Military Child'


Kristi Langenbacher


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Month of the Military Child started in 1986. That’s when Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger designated April as Month of the Military Child, as a month to recognize military children for the sacrifices they make, and to honor their contributions to communities around the world.

Since that time, schools and communities and military bases around the country have embraced the month of April as a time to honor, acknowledge and support military connected kids.

A military connected kid is “a child or adolescent with a close family member serving in any branch of the United States Armed Forces, and any status – active duty, reserve or National Guard,” as defined by The National Military Family Association, or NMFA.

Because military connected youth face unique circumstances living the military lifestyle, which can be challenging, and can also provide opportunities for growth, NMFA is one or many organizations which support the Purple Up! For Military Kids campaign.

Purple symbolizes the combined colors of all branches of the military – Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine red, and Navy blue. This year, many organizations have chosen Wednesday, April 18 as the day for communities to wear purple in support of military children to thank them for their strength and sacrifices.

The U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity, or DoDEA, supports recognizing military children for the important role they play in the armed forces community. Sponsored by the Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy, the Month of the Military Child is a time to applaud military families and their children for the daily sacrifices they make and the challenges they overcome.

Throughout the month, DoDEA will encourage schools to plan special events to honor military children and have administrators and principals incorporate the themes of this month into their everyday duties and responsibilities.

“These efforts and special events will stress the importance of providing children with quality services and support to help them succeed in the mobile military lifestyle,” according to the DoDEA web site at www.dodea.edu. The site also features information about the Month of the Military Child, ideas for planning events, ways to celebrate military children, and links to additional resources for military families.

Ideas for ways to celebrate include: providing links to resources for military families and publicizing Month of the Military Child events in school newsletters; hosting an assembly; saluting military children at sporting events; and asking teachers to make a special project with their classes that ties into the Month of the Military Child.

“My Military Life,” a blog by the NMFA, contains many articles in support of celebrating Month of the Military Child. One article encourages schools, parents, educators and community members to develop strategies and activities for celebrations which can become traditions.

Parents can solicit support from community members, principals, teachers and parent groups to bring awareness at schools to military children and their struggles. Ideas include: offering a breakfast or lunch for military connected youth in the school; designating April 18 as the official Purple Up! Day at school; decorating display cases and bulletin boards with military-focused memorabilia or items brought by military kids reflecting their experiences; displaying a map with pinpoints of where students and staff have lived because of their family’s military service; and inviting a military member from the community to be a guest speaker at an assembly and share their experiences with the students.

Military children are a special part of our country, and deserve to be supported and recognized – especially this month.

Kristi Langenbacher is a Coast Guard spouse and writes about military family life.