There are approximately 1.8 million children, including babies, toddlers, school-aged children, teens and young adults, with one or more parent serving in the armed forces. Since 1986, April has been designated as the Month of the Military Child to celebrate and recognize the contributions, courage and resilience of the youngest members of the military community. It’s also a time to recognize the nation’s responsibility and commitment to providing strong networks of support for military families. The Department of Defense (DoD) provides targeted support to military children and their families through a variety of specialized programs.
Through the DoD’s youth programs, military children can access a variety of programs that support their health and well-being and allow them to make new friends. Activities for youth include everything from gardening and photography to golf and swimming. In addition, for those military children living in more remote areas without a robust military community, Youth on the Move provides an online space where military children can network with each other and share information about the topics that interest them and the issues and problems that are unique to them. Other resources provided by Youth on the Move include advice about moving, social life and changing schools. Child and youth behavioral military and family life counselors can also provide a wide range of support to military children and youth, family members and staff members who work with children.
Through the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), military families with adults and children who have special medical and educational needs can receive specialized support and assistance. Enrollment in the program ensures that the family’s documented medical and educational needs are considered during the assignment coordination process. To receive further information and referrals, non-clinical case management and a warm welcome and handoff through moves and deployments, Service members and their families are encouraged to connect with the installation-specific EFMP family support office. Families can also speak with a Military OneSource Special Needs Specialty Consultant, and military families can download the DoD Special Needs Parent Tool Kit at no cost.
With summer just around the corner, it’s the perfect time for military children and families to take advantage of Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs that allow kids a chance to get outside, be active, learn new skills and get to know their community. And opportunities are not just limited to sports. Morale, Welfare and Recreation can help with planning outings such as camping trips, and developing new hobbies. Youth looking for summer jobs on their installation can also get information about internships, jobs and volunteer opportunities.
At the Department of Defense, and the Office of Warrior Care Policy, we recognize that a network of support is vital to military families, and that supporting military children is a shared community responsibility. We are thankful for the sacrifices military children around the world make on behalf of their Service member parents, and we salute and celebrate them.