As a society, we tend to focus our appreciation on the men and women who make sacrifices to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. While this is vitally important, we must not overlook the sacrifices also made by the children of these military families. And the perfect time to recognize these children is April, which is designated as Month of the Military Child.
As part of the legacy of former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, Month of the Military Child was established in 1986. The Department of Defense has honored this initiative ever since, recognizing the sacrifices made by military families worldwide. Particular emphasis is placed on the experience of the dependent children of military members, whether their parents serve at home or overseas, and regardless of the branch in which they serve.
Month of the Military Child is sponsored by the Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy and supported by many other organizations, such as the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA). Many military communities, local schools and associations plan contests, parades, fairs and other special events. These events are geared to show support for children and to give them the chance to tell their own stories on what it means to be a military child.
The Military Child Experience
Each military child is expected to support the mission by understanding the needs of his or her parents to deploy or relocate. In general, they have to accept that their family’s needs are second to the call of duty. This can be difficult for children, particularly those not old enough to fully understand when their parents deploy or are reassigned. According to the Department of Defense, as of 2019, there were approximately 1.7 million “total-force dependent children,” almost 1 million of those being children to active-duty members including: 407,000 Army, 233,000 Navy, 91,000 Marine Corps, and 245,000 Air Force.*
Purple Up! For Military Kids
For many, the highlight of Month of the Military Child is “Purple Up! For Military Kids” Day. This is a fun and easy way to honor military kids with one or both parents and those coping with the absence of deployed parents.
Anyone can participate in “Purple Up! For Military Kids” Day. Wear your favorite purple clothing as your own show of support. Why purple? It’s the color that brings all military children together by representing all branches of the military. Check your local listings for “Purple Up! For Military Kids” Day in your area.
Other ways to celebrate Purple Up! Day:
- Ask your local, regional, state, and federal officials to wear purple on Purple Up! Day and post photos on Instagram with #PurpleUp. Search for #PurpleUp and you’ll see USBA employees wearing purple, too!
- Share a captioned photo of your local celebration on the DoDEA Facebook page.
- Suggest companies and businesses ask their employees to wear purple.
- Ask schools and teachers to recognize Purple Up! Day. More than 80% of military children attend public schools throughout the United States and many are not on military bases.
- Involve sports teams. Have sporting event announcers make a special announcement recognizing all military children. Ask them to invite military kids to raise the flag, sing the National Anthem or recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
- Request local businesses, stores and restaurants post a Purple Up! message to help educate and involve the general public.
Where Can I Learn More?
Since many Month of the Military Child events are sponsored by military communities, check to see if anything has been planned by the base Public Affairs office, Military Family Readiness Centers, Department of Defense Dependent School administration offices, or even on-base Child Development Centers (the military base equivalent of daycare). You may also find activities listed at Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Centers.
Life Insurance for Dependent Children
April is also a good time for active duty, retired and honorably discharged veterans to apply for USBA term life insurance coverage for their eligible dependent children. Monthly premiums start at $1.50 per unit, and each unit covers all of your eligible children. By providing this financial protection now, you’re teaching your children the importance of financial security for their future.
Source: 2019 Demographics Profile of the Military Community, U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.
USBA is a not-for-profit Association that provides group life insurance, health insurance supplements, and other products and services to military personnel, Federal employees, National Guard and Reserve members, Veterans and their families.