April is the Month of the Military Child. But what does that really mean? Hallmark has yet to claim or commercialize it. I think the same can be said of the general population. As a civilian working for an organization filled with former military members/spouses who work to serve military families need, the disconnect between my personal and professional worlds is glaring.
I live in Colorado Springs, a town with five military bases. Many of my neighbors are military even though my home isn’t near any of our local installations. My daughter is all set for kindergarten next year; many of her friends are in limbo as their parents patiently await PCS orders to any of several locations.
I’m not sure even they know April is the Month of the Military Child. I’m also not sure how this month is supposed to be celebrated. As an organization, Operation Homefront is presenting the Military Child Award April 8 in Washington, D.C. From our online community, OH Online, and Facebook page, we’ll be giving away a tricycle each week in a fun photo contest. We’re also covering issues that affect military children: drug abuse, autism, the state of military marriage and staying connected to grandparents.
But what should I, Kerry McGinley, do? What can each of us do as individuals to say thanks or support these kids and their families? Here are a few ideas:
1. Thank a stranger in uniform, especially if his/her/your kids are there. You’re not just offering kind words, you’re setting an example for the little people watching.
2. Do one small thing to bridge that civilian/military disconnect. For me, that means I’ll remind my Air Force wife pal from preschool that it’s been too long since she and her girls came over to make cookies. If you’re military, reach out to a civilian pal to strengthen that connection. To the general public, our wars are only as real as the people who are fighting them.
3. Give of yourself. It doesn’t have to be money, but there are plenty of wonderful nonprofits that could use it. Maybe your FRG could host a story time for members’ kids, or your church could adopt a local military family with a deployed service member to perform chores. Just something simple that says “thanks” more eloquently than words.
We all benefit when we think and act with deliberate kindness and gratitude.
So what will you do?