While attempting to register my children for an Operation Purple Camp, which connects military children going through similar emotional and psychological challenges, I learned that the program had been cut significantly.
Last year, I had five to six dates and locations from which to choose within my home state. This year, I only had one.
The website stated that because of a lack of funding, many military nonprofits are experiencing serious financial burdens -- so much so, that some of the programs that cater to military children's needs will cease to exist.
Sesame Street and the Electric Company partnered to play a critical role in military families' lives. Since 2008, their programs and characters have placed a special emphasis on serving military children and young teens.
When Michelle Obama and Jill Biden first introduced Sesame Street fans to Katie, a military child, back in 2011 - they gave military children a character with which to identify and a way for non-military kids to learn about the struggles of moving and changing schools that kids like Katie face.
In collaboration with the United Service Organizations (USO), Katie and the brand new Sesame Street bus will be traveling around the United States to 65 military installations this summer. It will be the first 8-month tour in its 71-year history!
There are other incredible resources for families experiencing a loved one going through deployment. I found many out through word of mouth.
Operation Military Kids provides resources such as scholarship information. Horses for Heroes offer great programs and services at free or reduced rates. Operation Military Kids provides help to military families before, during and after deployment. My girls received grants used toward private tutoring through Our Military Kids. This is a great site to check out a variety of other resources.
I encourage each of you reading this blog to take the next step! If you aren't in the military or don't know anyone who is, there's a generation of children and young adults who need your support through these very turbulent and challenging years ahead of us. They're living part of a military life, which is only experienced by 1 percent of our population. These organizations help them survive the uncertainty and turmoil.
Learn about these organizations that support military youth and children. Pass along the information to those people in your circle of influence. If you can't give financially, volunteer, have your friends or class or employer do community service for a military affiliated organization.
Several years ago while teaching at a private school, I took middle school students to volunteer at the National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy in Woodside, Calif. The majority of my students had never been out of Silicon Valley to get mud on their hands. The smiles on their faces after chopping down weeds, cleaning the barn and scrubbing the horse therapy arena said it all.
Sometimes, there just aren't words to see how supportive these organizations are and how benefits reward all involved both ways.