It’s hard to convey the true depth of Military Family engagement where children are concerned. Nevertheless, children are our most important mission because they are tomorrow’s leaders and decision makers. How they are shaped and influenced are through the forethoughts and compassion of dedicated folks, volunteers, educators and leaders of today.
The need for inherent kindness and efforts to bring provisions and comfort to military children is an ongoing endeavor. The month of April in support of “Month of the Military Child” should not be just a one-stop month and/or an annual recognition, but a continuous effort throughout the year. Let’s make no mistake, our military soldiers—Marine, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard personnel—do not carry the massive burden for freedom sake alone. But family members such as spouses, extended family, and children who are left behind during deployments or are carried along with them through multiple transitions are all equally affected.
The hardships of day-to-day life for military children can be tough, but there are definitive ways to help meet their needs. Below are some possible programs to help engage our military children:
- Develop/start a support group of common interests and activities. In a support group, the children will provide comfort from day to day problems to each other. Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for a sense of community. The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others’ experiences, providing sympathetic understanding, and establishing social networks.
- Assist the incoming transitioning students into their new school and community, as well as help departing students prepare for entry into the next school. Sponsorship can be key to a military family’s successful move. This program can help create cohesion and a smoother transition into a new installation and/or academic community.
- Employ local civic organizations within the community to provide a cultural service to enhance the importance of our military children, children alike and education. Comprise the “Organizational Day” with all sorts of activities, local speakers, and educational programs..
- Ask local military personnel from a National Guard, the reserves and/or active duty units to talk about their jobs and responsibilities, read 15 minutes within a classroom, and/or lead a small exercise routine with Kindergarten military children on a nearby post.
Many feel compelled to help, but invariably the “how to” question creeps in. Not knowing how to make a difference, we move on with our day, suppressing the disturbing images and waiting for the cycle to begin again. Nevertheless, always remember to lead by example. Giving servitude is better than receiving highlights and it strengthens the cause. Taking the first step unites us all.