In U.S. military communities around the world, April is officially known as the Month of the Military Child. All month long, it is a time to highlight and applaud the children of military families and the important role they play in our community.
The Month of the Military Child was established in 1986 by former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, and the Department of Defense has observed it ever since. This month of recognition is also used to bring awareness to the unique needs of military children, from repeated moves across the country and sometimes around the world to coping with the stress brought on by parents deploying to war zones.
For a glimpse of how substantial this community is, there are currently more than a million child military dependents of active duty service members. And since 9/11, more than 2 million children have lived through a parent’s deployment. On any given day around the world, 200,000 children are looked after in military childcare facilities, while hundreds of youth and teen centers serve 645,000 youths through various educational and recreational programs.
Military Kid Life
Military children live a wide range of experiences that all require a high level of flexibility. They will move 10-20 times over the course of their childhood, which is three times as often as a civilian family. Some kids never leave the U.S. during their parents’ military careers, while others grow up immersed in the cultures of various non-English speaking countries like Germany or Japan. Some experience their entire K-12 education at DoD schools outside the U.S. In some way all of them know what it means to put the needs of our country ahead of their own.
And this is not an easy burden to bear. When parents get deployed, reassigned, or come home from war physically or mentally injured, it can be tough for kids to process or fully understand. But as it turns out, military kids are also some of the most resilient.
In a nod to that resilience, the official flower of the military child is the dandelion. As a flower, it is strong and upright. It’s adaptable to a broad range of environments. Carried on the wind, it is capable of putting down roots almost anywhere. Just like military kids.
According to the Military Child Education Coalition, “military children are well-rounded, culturally aware, tolerant, and extremely resilient. Military children learn from an early age that home is where the heart is, a good friend can be found in every corner of the world, and education doesn’t only come from school.”
The Month of the Military Child is celebrated with purple, a color that symbolizes the joint environment of the military, encompassing active duty, reserve, national guard, and veterans of all service branches. Purple combines colors from all branches into one: shades of blue for the Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Space Force; green for the Army and red for the Marine Corps.
Every April 15th, Purple Up! Day is a day to wear purple as a thank you to military kids for their strength and sacrifices. For posters, certificates of recognition and other tools you can use to celebrate military kids, be sure to check out this MOMC Toolkit.
How to Find MOMC Events
Wondering where you can find community events or programs celebrating the military child? A great place to start is your base public affairs office. You can also look for information at military family readiness centers, the MWR, and the admin office of your child’s DoD school.
The Month of the Military Child a great opportunity to remind our younger family members that they are not alone and belong to a special community of kids who all know what it means to live the military life. Having active duty parents means that kids serve in their own way, and it’s important that their strengths and sacrifices are recognized.
Let us know how you plan to celebrate your military child this April!