Comic Book Hero Salutes Selfridge Children Saturday

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
Capt. America will report for duty at Selfridge Air National Guard Base this weekend.

The comic book hero who puts a heavy focus on patriotism will be visiting the Selfridge Commissary 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Saturday as part of the Month of the Military Child activities at the base. The Captain's visit is being coordinated by the Family Advocacy office at the Army's Detroit Arsenal. In addition to the visit, a table with information on the prevention of Child Abuse will also be available at the commissary Saturday April 7 and 14.

"Our children, sometimes even from before they are born, are also serving," said Col. Michael Thomas, 127 Wing commander. "Every time mom or dad is called to deploy, their children are impacted. For members of the Air National Guard, even routine monthly service on the weekend can mean missed birthdays, Little League games or other events."

Recognizing the special challenge for military children, the Dept. of Defense created the Month of the Military Child program during the 1980s. America's service men and women have combined total of approximately 1.8 million children.

The separations that occur during a military deployment can have a "serious impact" on military families' well-being, particularly on the children, Barbara Thompson, director of military community and family policy, children and youth, told the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service. Younger children may experience separation and attachment issues, while older children may engage in risky behaviors, she explained.

Thompson noted a specific concern for children from Guard and Reserve families. These children, living in every community around the nation, may be lacking nearby support. A military child may be the only student in a school with a deployed parent, she said, and the school oftentimes isn't even aware.

"School districts are key partners," Thompson said. "That's where 92 percent of our school-age kids are located. They need to know they have military children in their schools."

To combat a sense of isolation, officials have posted information online to educate teachers, school administrators and parents on supporting military children.

On installations, child development centers, youth programs and the New Parent Support Program are geared for providing "safe havens" for military kids, Thompson said.

The department already has made strides by partnering with other agencies and organizations, she said. DOD works closely with Zero to Three's Coming Together Around Military Families initiative, and with Sesame Street's military support programs such as Talk, Listen, Connect and Military Families Near and Far.
While they're making progress, DOD officials can't tackle these issues alone, Thompson said. It will take the efforts of an entire nation -- from individuals and communities to government agencies and private companies -- to accomplish this goal, she added.

Every American can help to support military families, she said, and no effort is too small. A neighbor can help a parent with a deployed spouse by pitching in with a carpool, driving children to an extracurricular activity, or mowing a military families' lawn.

Schools can set aside special days to honor military kids' contributions, and communities can sponsor a play or picnic, or simply find the military families in their midst to thank them, Thompson said.

She suggested people visit the White House's Joining Forces website to find service opportunities that support military families in their neighborhoods.

Taking care of military parents has a positive and direct impact on their kids, Thompson noted.

"It's important to care for the stay-at-home parent with a deployed spouse," she said. "They're the first responders for these children. If the stay-at-home parent isn't being nurtured, it's very hard for him or her to nurture those children."

Thompson encouraged people to take time this month to honor military children for their sacrifices, whether it's with an event or words of gratitude.

"One of the things that's disconcerting is we know that 1 percent of our population is in uniform and is serving, and the other 99 percent of the country takes full benefit of that," Thompson said.

"As a community, we owe it to our children to honor them and to protect them."