April is the Month of the Military Child and for me that's particularly important because I have three! There are over one million children with a parent or parents and at least 900,000 with one or both parents deployed multiple times. There are lots of people writing about this this month, a few that I've read that I recommend are one written by the deputy secretery of defense for military community and family policy, Robery L. Gorden III can be found here. Another one was actually a guest post on one of my favorite military blogs "Wife of a Sailor" and that can be found here. And I'm sure, if you are a military blogger that you've run across your own posts about the topic.
April was designated Month of the the Military Child by Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger in 1986! Recognizing the importance and uniqueness of a child with a parent(s) that serve is quite important and I'm glad someone recognized it. We, as the parents that are home with the child when the Military Parent is not, face unique challenges that ordinary families do not face. To deal with a parent that is constantly in and out is really hard. Children, especially my kids age, have a really hard time understanding that. My five year old is just really beginning to become fully aware of daddy being gone. Its not that he didn't understand before that daddy wasn't around, but he's become old enough for us to really explain it. One of the last time's my hubby was gone, like two times ago really, was probably the hardest one that we have ever been through. I think that Brian was just at that right age where he was just become aware but he didn't know how to handle or communicate his feelings. He didn't want me to leave him, he would burst into tears, he was acting out really really bad. It was horrible and I was trying to keep it all together. That is one of the harder parts about being a military wife, that's different than before you have kids. You have to keep your emotions more in check when you're a mom. That's not to say that you aren't allowed to be sad, or cry or any of that stuff. But you just have to do it differently when you have kids around, even small ones. They are acutely aware of emotions, even if they can't talk. They can sense these emotions. That particularly time we were fairly isolated which made it harder for me. No family programs, no frg type stuff, no base community, and not a lot of people who were also gone had kids, or were even married. That was hard.
Thankfully there are so many programs and other things available to assist you in this time in your life. One thing that I utilized and loved was Sesame Street's Listen, Talk, Connect. Amazing stuff. The people at Sesame Street Workshop did an absolutely wonderful job with that. You can get some more information about that here.
Operation Military Kids is another great thing to help out parents during hard times. They have a great map and you can click on your state to find out specific things that are happening and that are available to you right close to home. There's great ways for older children to get involved, creating community awareness of specific issues they face, while also gaining leadership and public speaking skills. There is information of summer camps available for Military children. You can find out about Hero Packs, which is a great program that distributes backpacks in appreciation for military kids. Lots of states involve non-military kids youths in that and each backpack contains a letter from someone their own age expressing thanks for their sacrifice during their parent's deployment or service. Programs like Ready, Set, Go! increase awareness and education and eventually lead to wonderful programs in schools. One school actually initiated a support group, created by the School counselor after he went through Ready, Set, Go! training.
There are so many resources out there that its impossible to list them all but here's a couple more to help out small children, Operation Top Knot - providing assistance to pregnant and new mommies whose husbands are deployed, and Operation Hug a Hero. I'm also a great fan of Hugs to Go dolls.
In celebration of Military Kids, I've some special stuff planned! First up is a review and giveaway of a great book called "Cooper and Me and the Military". You can find out more information about Cooper and Me on their website. Check back for that coming up. And who knows, maybe a couple other surprises along the way!