Military families and supporters gathered at the capitol building in Des Moines March 24 as Gov. Terry Branstad signed a proclamation declaring April as the Month of the Military Child in Iowa.
More than 10,000 Iowa children have a parent or step-parent serving in the military and many more children have a sibling, grandparent or other family member serving, says Chris Gleason, state military liaison for Iowa State University Extension 4-H Youth Development. Many children also are affected by the deployment of a teacher, coach or other caring adult in their lives.
"Last week's event was a celebration to recognize that Iowa's children also serve when family members or other caring adults in their lives are deployed," says Gleason. Thirty-five military families from across Iowa participated in a reception hosted by the Iowa National Guard Officer's Auxiliary. Many of the military families stood by Gov. Branstad as he read and then signed the proclamation.
"Military families from almost all of the service branches were able to attend," according to Victoria Schmidt, Operation: Military Kids program coordinator with ISU Extension. "That was important to help us remember that Marine, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard Reservist families also are affected by deployment — as well as our many Army and Air National Guard and Army Reserve families."
Extension has resources to help meet needs of military families
Gleason notes that support for military kids and families continues to grow in Iowa. "Many educators and counselors have attended the Military Child Education Coalition trainings sponsored by the Army National Guard. Early Childhood Iowa and Child Care Resource and Referral are helping to get information about deployment issues into the hands of childcare providers. In addition, ISU Extension is putting together a team that will adapt training and resources to meet the specific needs of military families," Gleason says.
Operation: Military Kids (OMK) partners are using Month of the Military Child to kick off a spring and summer full of activities designed to help military kids come together, develop a sense of belonging with other military kids, understand they are not alone and build resiliency, Schmidt says.
In April the Iowa National Guard is hosting a Youth Symposium during its annual Family Readiness Conference and the Army Reserves are hosting a Month of the Military Child Festival for all reserve service components. In addition, a number of fishing days, residential camps and horse day camps are planned, as well as a Flag Day celebration at the State of Iowa Historical Building. Dates and information about upcoming events are listed on the Operation: Military Kids calendar at .
"OMK Partners" program being carried out by a number of groups
Operation: Military Kids is funded by the U.S. Army's Child, Youth and School Services in partnership with USDA/4-H National Headquarters and the land-grant universities. National and state partners also include the American Legion, Military Child Education Coalition, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, Iowa State University Extension, Iowa Army/Air National Guard, Reserves – Army, Navy, Air, Marine, Coast Guard, Iowa School Counselors Association, Operation Give a Hug and the Iowa National Guard Officers Auxiliary. Information is available online at or .
Proclamation: April, Month of the Military Child in Iowa
Whereas, thousands of brave Iowans serve in the military and have taken the oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; and
Whereas, Iowa has more than 10,000 children with a parent or step-parent serving in the military; and
Whereas, Iowa has many children with a sibling, grandparent, aunt, or uncle serving in the military; and
Whereas, Iowa has many children with a teacher or coach or other caring adult in their lives serving in the military; and
Whereas, Iowa's military kids also serve when their family members and other caring adults sacrifice to defend our freedom:
Now, therefore, I, Terry Branstad, Governor of the State of Iowa, do hereby proclaim April 2011 as Month of the Military Child in Iowa, and urge my fellow citizens to observe this month by connecting with military kids, military families and the communities where we work, live and play to provide support to all our Iowa children affected by the deployment of family members and other caring adults in their lives.