Service members usually go through some substantive changes when they leave the military. Transitioning military children go through transition issues as well — but they may do it many times over the course of their young lives.
Having a parent deploy repeatedly, pulling up stakes and moving from one base to another every few years, and leaving friends behind and entering new schools are just a few of the challenges that military children are confronted with all the time.
Fortunately, America has realized what your children are dealing with these days, and with help from the federal government, state and nonprofit organizations, the military child has more support than ever before.
An array of resources is out there to support children, both when their parent is serving in the military and after their parent hangs up the uniform and transitions to veteran status.
Since April is the Month of the Military Child, I thought I would focus my next few columns on transition support for military children.
First, a look at some sources of federal, state and nonprofit support for your child.
Each service has organizations devoted to family support — day care programs, educational services, youth sports and a variety of activities that you and your child can enjoy together:
■ Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation:www.armymwr.com/commander/mission.aspx
■ Marine Corps Community Services: www.usmc-mccs.org
■ Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation: www.navymwr.org
■ Air Force Combat Support and Community Services:https://www.usafservices.com/Installations.aspx
■ The Defense Department has a website that lists family support services at your specific installation: www.militaryinstallations.dod.mil
Many states have programs geared to support veterans and their families — far too many to list here. As just one example, South Carolina offers free tuition to the children of certain war veterans attending state-supported colleges and universities and post-high school technical institutions. For details, visitwww.govoepp.state.sc.us/va/benefits.html.
Check with your state’s office of veterans’ affairs to see what benefits you and your children might be eligible for.
Many nonprofit groups are doing incredible work for children, offering moral support, advocacy, education services, scholarships, entertainment, recreational activities and more. A few of the best-known groups in the military community:
■ Military Child Education Coalition: www.militarychild.org/about-us
■ Armed Services YMCA of USA: www.asymca.org/programs
■ Sesame Workshop: www.sesameworkshop.org/what-we-do/our-initiatives/military-families/
■ Fisher House Foundation: www.militaryscholar.org/
■ United Through Reading: www.unitedthroughreading.org/military-program/
In my next column, I’ll go deeper into education benefits and information for the military child.