AMES, Iowa -- Children from all over Iowa are affected by the Department of Defense’s announced deployment of 3,500 Iowa National Guard Soldiers for duty in Afghanistan, scheduled for fall 2010. And, this is not the first time many of these children will experience the deployment of their parent, sibling or other family member, says Chris Gleason, project director for Iowa State University Extension 4-H’s Operation: Military Kids (OMK).
In addition, many additional children in communities are affected when school teachers, fire and law enforcement personnel, health professionals and coaches deploy, Gleason said.
OMK provides training, resources
OMK and partner agencies provide free training and resources to school districts and communities to help them develop community capacity to support children and Military Families affected before, during and after deployment, Gleason explained.
Training includes understanding how the deployment cycle affects children during the different phases of deployment, identifying stress reactions and intervention strategies designed to mitigate psychosocial stress caused by deployment, and how to access and use resources to build community-based support networks.
“Multiple deployments put many children at risk” according to Gleason. “Iowa Soldiers have a mission to focus on, and they can do that more effectively when they know that their children are safe and supported in their schools and communities. One parent told me she wanted her children to thrive, not just survive, during deployment. Schools and communities have the capacity to make that happen – and OMK and our partners can provide the resources to make that happen.”
For more information
Military families and others who would like more information about Operation: Military Kids may contact Gleason by phone at (515) 294-1557 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Victoria Schmidt, OMK program coordinator, (888) 408-6606, email@example.com. Information is available online at www.operationmilitarykids.org or www.extension.iastate.edu/4H/omk/.
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.
Laura Sternweis, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-0775, firstname.lastname@example.org