By Barbara Thompson
Director, Office of Family Policy/Children and Youth, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Military Community and Family Policy)
Our military children are strong and resilient. From a very young age, they face challenges many other children do not, including frequent moves, school transitions, and tough goodbyes. Through all of this, they demonstrate maturity and wisdom—helping out at home during deployments, doing well in school, and much more. However, the military lifestyle can take its toll on our children’s health and well-being and it’s important that we provide families with the right resources to support their children through difficult times.
Positive mental health is essential to a child’s development and on May 9th, we draw attention to this important issue by recognizing Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, part of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) “Caring for Every Child’s Mental Health” initiative, which seeks to increase awareness about the importance of children’s mental health and to stimulate support services. This year, the focus will be on the impact of trauma on children and youth and how we can help our children build resilience to it.
Sesame Workshop’s resources and outreach have done more to help families cope with repeated deployments during a decade of war than anything the military could have done alone, the military’s top officer said here today.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sesame’s “Talk, Listen, Connect: Deployments, Homecomings, Changes” campaign — a kit of DVDs and booklets designed to get families to discuss the unique challenges of military service with young children — sends “a powerful signal and produces a better outcome” than the Defense Department or military services could do on their own.
Dempsey made the comments as part of a Sesame Workshop panel discussion with other military and veteran advocates. ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff, who suffered a traumatic brain injury while reporting on the war in Iraq, and his wife, Lee, also an author and journalist, hosted the event at the National Press Club.
“I bet you’ll pay more attention to what Rosita says than what any four-star general says,” Dempsey said, as the green furry monster puppet made an appearance at the lectern next to him.
The hardest farewell: a little boy wipes away tears as he says goodbye to his daddy. His father is getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan.
South Carolina Air National Guardsmen and active duty personnel from the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., April 8th, 2012. Personnel are departing from McEntire for an Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. More than a dozen South Carolina Air National Guard F-16 fighter jets and nearly 500 personnel (pilots, maintenance specialists and support staff) will deploy for about four months.
(South Carolina Air National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Jorge Intriago, 169th FW Public Affairs)
A ribbon cutting ceremony at the Perevalsk Boarding School for Orphans and Children with Genetic Disabilities marked a historic partnership between the U.S. and Ukraine to provide funding to renovate the school’s gym, which was in need of toilets, showers, and locker rooms in order to remain open.
(U.S. Navy Lt. Jennifer Franco, U.S. European Command Public Affairs)
Story by Spc. Chelsea Russell
Regional Command Southwest
Despite all the bad things that can happen during a deployment, Marine Corps Col. Michael Gann, the II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) operations officer for Afghan National Security Forces Development stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., said his experiences in Afghanistan have taught him to never forget the simple things in life.
Gann and his men were awaiting a return flight to Camp Leatherneck after completing a mission in Zaranj when he noticed a couple of Afghan civilians had arrived at the airfield. It was a Friday morning, so it was a holiday. There was a little girl with them.
Gann said he was standing there in all of his battle gear when the little girl just started walking toward him. She wasn’t the least bit deterred by his intimidating appearance. Gann slowly squatted down and held out his hand to her. She fearlessly grabbed ahold of it and smiled up at him.
“She didn’t know the difference between good, bad or evil,” Gann explained, recollecting his awe at the fearlessness of the young girl. “And I thought, as cynical as I’d become in this deployment from seeing all the bad things that happen, here was a kind of situation that gave me pause to reconsider a bit.”
Cpl. Joaquin Smith, administrative specialist with I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), chats to his daughter, Jayden, 4, Feb. 27, as approximately 150 Marines and sailors prepare to deploy to Afghanistan. Family members and friends gathered to say goodbye to the Marines and sailors who will be forward deployed for approximately one year.
Senior Chief Navy Counselor Paul Tyquiengco, assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), delivers stuffed animals to children during a community service project at Camillian Social Center in Rayong, Thailand, for children and adults living with HIV and AIDS. Members of the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) chief’s mess visited the center during a port visit to Laem Chabang and Pattaya, Thailand.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Barry A. Riley/Released)
Duck, duck, duck, duck… GOOSE!
Sgt. Marcos Bustos, assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (11th MEU), plays a game with children during a community relation’s event at the Help the Cambodian Children Goodwill Center. USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and embarked Marines assigned to the 11th MEU are operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations as part of the Makin Island Ready Group commanded by Capt. Humberto L. Quintanilla II.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dominique Pineiro)