April has been deemed the Month of the Military Child. This is a special time to recognize the children of military families and veterans for their resiliency and sacrifices they too have made.
Unlike most children, the children of Canadian men and women in uniform often face more challenges. Military families are constantly on the move with the children having to leave schools, activities and their friends behind. Sometimes family members are absent for long periods of time for deployments and training exercises. For some of these families, change is the only constant thing in their lives.
Some of these children will take these changes with a grain of salt, thriving on them and even continuing the military service tradition within their family. Others may need more support. With a greater understanding from doctors and teachers, they have been able to help these children manage the stresses of military life when they arise. The Department of National Defence (DND) and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) have also been making efforts to strengthen resources for military families.
With 32 Military Family Resource Centres (MFRCs) located on bases across Canada and service points in the U.S., and Europe, they have been able to provide Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) families with programs, services, information, and referrals to local services and agencies.
Children’s programs, such as deployment workshops, can be accessed through the MFRC. The Canadian Government proudly supports recent improvements including the modernization of MFRCs and extending access to medically released CAF personnel and their families. These measures promise to have a positive impact on the children in the family.
The CAF’s Children’s Education Management program has been working hard to reduce the impact of relocation of schooling for military families at home and overseas since 1947. Since 2008, over 2,000 children of CAF members have participated in Support Our Troops National Summer Camps. VAC also provides educational assistance to eligible students who have lost a parent as a result of military service. These students receive monthly support up to four years, or 36 months of educational study.
Take this month to pay tribute to the children of military families. If you know one of these children, take the time to increase your knowledge and understanding of their unique circumstances. It takes a kind of courage to put on the uniform in service to the country, but another to share in that journey, wherever it may take you.