AMES, Iowa – Governor Chet Culver has declared April as Month of the Military Child in Iowa, and officials with Operation: Military Kids hope the proclamation encourages schools, communities and citizens throughout the state to take steps to support Iowa’s military families now and in the months and years ahead.
With 3,500 soldiers from the 2nd Brigade of the Iowa National Guard scheduled to deploy next fall, school districts, childcare programs and early childhood programs need to prepare now so they’re ready to support the children and families of these soldiers, said Chris Gleason, Operation: Military Kids (OMK) project director with Iowa State University Extension 4-H Youth Development.
“When we’ve got 3,500 troops deploying, that’s going to affect just about every community in Iowa,” Gleason said.
Gov. Culver signed a proclamation March 23 declaring April as “Month of the Military Child,” in honor of Iowa children who have a close relative serving in the armed forces. The Governor was joined by representatives of OMK, a partnership of the U.S. Army and 4-H, and a group of children with parents in the military for a ceremony in the Governor’s office.
“The men and women who bravely serve our state and country make many sacrifices, and those sacrifices are shared by their loved ones,” Gov. Culver said. “A child’s life changes when a parent or close relative is deployed, and it’s important to recognize their bravery as well. I am proud to sign this proclamation in support of Iowa’s military kids.”
Be Prepared to Support Military Families
Iowa communities need to be prepared now to support Military Kids when this next round of deployments gets under way, Gleason said. OMK partners are encouraging professionals who work with young children, school age children and teens to spend time in April learning about the additional stressors that military children and families experience during deployment.
Teachers, counselors, school nurses and child care professionals all have the opportunity to offer vital emotional support and provide the secure, safe environments that these children need, Gleason said. These caring adults who work with military children on a daily basis can begin to develop plans in partnership with parents to support military kids throughout the deployment cycle.
“Celebrating April’s Month of the Military Child is a great way for schools and agencies and organizations that serve youth to create awareness about the support networks that communities can develop to support military kids and families,” Gleason said. “For example, community libraries and veterans groups can host story hours that focus on supporting military kids. Schools can create bulletin boards highlighting the military service of their students’ family members, past and present. Many schools are developing in-school and after school support groups for Military Kids.”
School districts can make sure their policies are Military Family friendly, Gleason continued. “It should be an excused absence when kids need to miss school to see their parents off because their units are deploying.”
A number of OMK partner events are scheduled in April and the coming months for youth of all ages across the state. For more information, dates and times, go to the Iowa OMK website and click on the calendar of events at www.extension.iastate.edu/4h/programs/omk.htm.
The Governor’s Proclamation
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 stepparent 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, Chester J. Culver, Governor of the State of Iowa, do hereby proclaim April 2010, 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.
Laura Sternweis, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-0775,