Terrell Dean, teacher’s assistant, and students celebrate the month of the military child at the Joint Base Andrews Child Development Center Three on April 7, 2016. This year, the Department of Defense Education Activity observes Friday, April 21, as “Purple Up Day” to recognize our military youth and acknowledge the year-round contributions and sacrifices made by them. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Rustie Kramer/Released)
By Kiani Dumagan
Did you know that the average military child moves once every two to three years and attends between six to nine different schools from kindergarten through 12th grade?
With this constant change, military children face challenges with leaving behind friendships, adjusting to a new school and, ultimately, a new way of life. These children also face great hardship when dealing with the deployment of a parent or sometimes, both.
This year, the Department of Defense Education Activity observes Friday, April 21, as “Purple Up Day” to recognize our military youth and acknowledge the year-round contributions and sacrifices made by them. On this day, communities are asked to wear purple to visually show their support. Purple is the color that symbolizes all branches of the military, as it is a combination of Army green; Marine red; and Coast Guard, Air Force and Navy blue.
Purple Up Day is just one of the celebrations dedicated to military children during April, which is designated as the Month of the Military Child. This month-long celebration was first established in 1986 by former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, who also previously served in the U.S. Army.
During this month, Operation Homefront awards its annual Military Child of the Year award to six outstanding young people between the ages of 8 to 18. Each child represents a branch of the armed forces and is recognized for their “scholarship, volunteerism, leadership, extracurricular involvement and other criteria while facing the challenges of military family life,” according to the award’s website.
A seventh award, the Military Child of the Year award, is given to a young person between the ages of 13 to 18 who has demonstrated the power of innovative thinking. This year’s award gala took place on April 6 at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C.
According to a 2015 Demographics Report, there are over 1.7 million military children including both active duty and reserve personnel. About 38 percent are younger than 5, 31 percent are between the ages of 6 to 11, 24 percent are between the ages of 12 to 18, and 7 percent are between the ages of 19 to 22.
Many organizations like National Military Family Association, Military Child Education Coalition, Military OneSource and Blue Star Families offer programs and events designed to boost morale and create a strong supportive environment for these military children.
They also assist with new installation transitions and provide educational support, scholarships, free camps and retreats, and other great resources. These organizations are just among the many that are crucial in supporting our military children. You can express your gratitude on Purple Up Day by volunteering or donating to one of these programs.
Another way to show your support on Purple Up Day is by putting on an event in your community to increase awareness about the significance of the day. You can invite your local schools, businesses and organizations to participate and wear purple.
Every day, our military children serve alongside their parents and make sacrifices for our country. How will you honor them on Purple Up Day?