Operation: Military Kids
Members of the U.S. military have performed heroically throughout our nation's history, protecting America's interests and liberating people around the globe. In the three and a half years since September 11, 2001 that grand tradition has continued.
Besides the soldiers themselves, some of the greatest sacrifices in times of war are made by military families. Husbands and wives are often without spouses for extended periods of time. Children must make do without moms or dads.
On military bases there are strong support systems for the families of soldiers who are overseas. However, since the 1970's the Department of Defense has employed a Total Force concept, which means that National Guard and Reserve troops are integrated with active duty soldiers to form a single force structure.
This change has resulted in a greater dependence on National Guard and Reserve soldiers. Since these troops live and work among us, not on a military base, their families must often make it through long deployments without the support systems that are available to the families of active duty soldiers.
Operation: Military Kids was created to fill this void and support the children of national guard and reserve soldiers who are called to active duty.
Through schools, 4-H programs, Boys and Girls Clubs, veterans organizations, businesses, child care providers and other community groups, Operation: Military Kids provides a support network to youth and their families by connecting them to helpful people and organizations in their hometowns.
Operation: Military Kids has been operating in Iowa for a while now. I learned about its work to serve military kids through a women's conference that my wife Barbara and I host every other August. The group's presentation was part of a workshop on volunteering and, as a result, many women in Iowa have taken the opportunity to reach out to children who have parents overseas.
If you or an organization you're involved with are interested in supporting Operation: Military Kids, you can contact Chris Gleason, the 4-H Program Coordinator in Iowa. She is overseeing the program in our state. Chris can be reached at the Extension 4-H Youth Building, 13th and Stange, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011, by phone at 515/294-4443 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Operation: Military Kids also recently had its nationwide launch, and organizations to serve youth will be placed in every state. If you would like to learn more about the national organization you can visit www.operationmilitarykids.org.
Soldiers serving overseas have enough to worry about, they shouldn't have to be concerned about whether or not their family is being taken care of. Operation: Military Kids can help our men and women in uniform know their families are receiving the support they need.