Working to support children and youth impacted by the deployment of one or both parent; Operation: Military Kids is a cooperative effort between the United States Army and American communities. According to the Operation: Military Kids website; the goal of the program is to connect military children and youth with resources in order to gain community support and enhance their well-being.
According to Marianne Wojciechowicz, President of Blue Star Mothers of Southern Nevada Chapter 1 and the Program Assistant for Operation: Military Kids in Las Vegas, “The deployment cycle is, by its’ very nature, stressful. The service member is not the only individual impacted; it is the whole family.” In 2009, according to OMK, 150,000 youth participated in community programs by state OMK teams in 49 states and the District of Columbia.
Wojciechowicz explains, “As the parents and spouses of the deployed, we have adult sensibilities to cope with the deployment and to accept the eventualities which come with it. While it isn’t easy, it can be manageable, with the right support system in place. The children of deployed military have fewer emotional and psychological tools at their disposal to help with this major life event, simply because they are children.
“For those in active service living on base with families, the base can become a support system,” Wojciechowicz continues. “Our guardsmen and reservists, however, can’t rely on the safety net the base offers, because they don’t live on bases. They live in neighborhoods and communities and even on rural farms. These citizen soldiers leave jobs, home, family, and neighborhood to answer the call of duty. Behind them remain their spouses, children, and extended families.” For the single parent, now responsible for shouldering all the responsibilities of maintaining consistency in the daily operations of the family, providing enough support to the children can be difficult.
Wojciechowicz believes these children have a more difficult time adjusting, “I think, because mommy or daddy have been around for weeks, months, or years, and despite the advance notice that mobilization was coming, the reality is often difficult to face. Many times, school administrators, teachers, pastors, and even athletic coaches are unaware of the deployment status of the parent. They are unable to help if they notice problems arising, because the child doesn't mention the parent’s deployment status.”
Operation: Military Kids provides that safety net and support system for the children of the deployed and the parents left behind. It allows “kids to be kids”, even if just for a little while, in a safe, stress-free environment, surrounded by adults and other children who understand the situation of their lives.
To learn more about Operation: Military Kids, tune in Wednesday June 15, 2011 to The Freedom Hour on ybsradio.com as Marianne Wojciechowicz discusses OMK in depth. Questions can be addressed to Wojciechowicz by calling in during the program, to; 702-836-9927, or by tweeting to FreedomHour. The Freedom Hour is a weekly internet broadcast, airing every Wednesday evening at 6:00PM (PT), and hosted by Sara Crusade.