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Purple Up! in Support of Military Youth

Purple poster of youth

If you can’t Purple Up on the 15th Choose another day!

Not all heroes wear capes. How many times have we heard this phrase over the last year referring to healthcare workers, first responders, and essential personnel? What about kids – specifically kids with one or both parents serving in the military?

According to Webster, a hero is “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” Upon reflection, we thought about what we see in military kids. The kids of military families have make many sacrifices, they move often, lose time with family members serving, and often don’t get to celebrate events with deployed family members. Military-connected kids experience many challenges that make them resilient, but they also take their toll. We are civilians serving military youth using 4-H as the vehicle to help make them more resilient. In fact, UF/IFAS Extension and 4-H are proud to be a part of the military family working with youth centers across the nation to have some consistency for youth in these situations.

Jen also lives in a neighborhood full of active duty military members and their families. She sat down and chatted with a teen and his dad who is active duty Navy and one of her neighbors. Their conversation was so enlightening and inspiring about being a military kid that we had to share it with you!
The conversation started with me asking the teen to tell me what he thought a hero was. His response? Someone who does for the greater good; a person who possess courage, honesty, integrity, and kindness. I followed up by asking if he thought of himself as a hero. Immediately, he said, “no, I’m just a military kid. It is nothing special, just a title.” His answer really resonated with me. Adults who sign up for military life know what they are signing up for, military kids are just handed the cards they are dealt. The kids of military families have no say in the sacrifices of time, family, and opportunities as well as the uncertainty that comes along with the job of one or both parents serving in the military. How could this teen not see how special he is? I could not believe that his perception was that military kid just a title!
As we continued our conversation, we discussed how his role changes when his dad is gone for 7 to 14 months on deployment. He has to step up as the “man of the house” to help his mom with household duties and help with his younger brother. Then when dad comes back his role to changes again. These role changes can be challenging, but he consistently steps up without complaint. This young man has also experienced a big move that involved making all new friends, adjusting to life in the south. His parents report that he has also kept a positive attitude. When ask about this his response was “that is just what you do.”

image of children in purple

Purple up for military Kids

Military kids experience change frequently – some little and some big- starting early in their lives. Their ability to adapt and overcome is admirable. This teen was so nonchalant about his abilities and skills as a military kid that I had to stop and remind him that what he possesses is something truly special. To put it into perspective, on top of everything that comes with being a military kid, he has dealt with a big move relocating to Florida, the devastating effects of Hurricane Michael, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic and transitioned to virtual school. Compared to his peers, and many adults, he has handled the change with grace and confidence. By the end of our conversation, I asked again, “Do you think of yourself as a hero?” This time his answer was much different than when we started our conversation, “yes, I guess I am.” I thanked him for his service, which supports his dad to carry out his duties to protect our country every day. He replied thank you for caring!
Now we need your help! Being a military kid is so much more than a title. Please join us in celebrating the Month of the Military Child throughout April and Purple Up! for Military Kids on April 15. This is one way to recognize these youth and show them we care! It’s simple, wear purple and take photos to share on social media using #fl4h, #purpleup, #virtualMOMC, #4heverywhere
I encourage you to visit our website (https://sites.google.com/ufl.edu/4-h-military-partnership-4-h-m/home) and follow us on Facebook (@bayifas) to learn about how you can join the celebration and support Extension programs like these. Next time you see a military member out with their family, I urge you to not just thank the service member for their service, but also thank their kids as they serve, too. For more information on Purple Up; contact your local county 4-H Agent. 4-H is one of the nation’s most diverse organizations and includes people from all economic, racial, social, political, and geographic categories. There are no barriers to participation by any young person. Participants are given the opportunity to engage in activities that hold their personal interest, while being guided by adult volunteers.

By: Paula Davis & Jennifer Sims

April Month of the Military Child

Purple flyer telling about month of military child

Help us celebrate our military youth during the month of April on Social Media! Just use using #fl4h, #purpleup, #virtualMOMC, #4heverywhere

UF/IFAS Extension and 4-H are proud to be a part of the military family working with youth centers across the nation to have some consistency for military kids.  Here in Florida, we support 4-H programs at military bases in our state, as well as in a few other countries!

We need your help! Being a military kid is so much more than a title. Please join us in celebrating the Month of the Military Child throughout April and Purple Up! for Military Kids on April 15.

It’s simple, wear purple and take photos to share on social media. You can even post a photo of your family as we celebrate the Month of the Military Child while practicing social distancing all wearing purple. If you can’t join us on the 15th just post something on any day in April. Some businesses have committed to wear purple on Fridays for the whole month of April to celebrate military families!

If you are camera shy, you can decorate a door or window; create a red, white and blue dessert, cake or cupcake; to celebrate the Month of the Military Child. Then snap a picture and post on social media using the hashtags below.

These are several ways to recognize these youth and show them we care! Remember, it’s simple, wear purple and take photos to share on social media using #fl4h, #purpleup, #virtualMOMC, #4heverywhere with a statement like “we support our military youth,” tell us something you are grateful for related to our military or relate your own story of being in the military or growing up as a military kid!

Follow us on Facebook @VolunteeringInThePanhandle to learn about how you can join the celebration and support Extension programs like these. Next time you see a military member out with their family, I urge you to not just thank the service member for their service, but also thank their kids as they serve, too. For more information on Purple Up! contact your local county 4-H Agent. 4-H is one of the nation’s most diverse organizations and includes people from all economic, racial, social, political, and geographic categories. There are no barriers to participation by any young person. Participants are given the opportunity to engage in activities that hold their personal interest, while being guided by adult volunteers. Hope you will Purple Up! and share on social media!

4-H Celebrates November Month of the Military Family

Image with flag and military members saying Military Family Appreciation Month

Courtesy photo from https://media.defense.gov

When you think of military service, what words come to mind … training, deployments, relocation, freedom, service, and sacrifice? One word that most people overlook is… Family! According to National Child and Traumatic Stress Network “November was first declared as Military Family Month in 1996. Since then, November has been a time to acknowledge the tremendous sacrifices our military families make. They contend with separation from their families and make adjustments to new living situations and communities. Military Families embody strength, resilience, and courage. Care of military families and children sustains our fighting force, and strengthens the health, security, and safety of our nation’s families and communities.”

Help 4-H recognize the Military Family this month. Many of us live in a community with active duty military families, and almost every community has a Guard or Reserve family that you may not realize are service members. These individuals have a different job in the community and serve in times of need.

For those of us without a military background, it can be difficult to know how to be supportive. You may want to meet military family’s needs but don’t know where to begin. Therefore, we have put together a few ideas to help you on your supportive journey.

  • Create something decorative to cheer up a veteran’s nursing home room. Picture, Mandala, Bookmark
  • If you have a new military family come to your community welcome them to the neighborhood or school. Help them find their way around, give them a list of best places in your community and your phone number in case they need help.
  • Leave a care package with family friendly activities and self-care items. Operation Gratitude and Operation Care & Comfort are two organizations that do this for military members.
  • Volunteer to babysit or take a child to a practice and give the military parent a break especially if one of the parents is deployed. Just having someone they can trust offer help is a big gift!
  • Volunteer your time to provide companionship, serve a meal, assemble holiday packages. Veterans’ advantage has a list of trusted organizations and nonprofits if you don’t have a person in mind.
  • Deliver a meal or prepare something that they can take from the freezer and put in the oven or microwave as a quick meal.
  • Send a thank you note expressing your appreciation for the family’s support of our Military.
  • Offer to cut grass, clean, or help with household chores.
  • Offer to run errands – doing a grocery run, picking up dry cleaning, and other errands can ease the burden of juggling responsibilities while a military member is deployed.
  • Adopt a family for the holidays. Holidays can be hard when a service member is deployed or doesn’t have family in the local area. Include military families in your holiday plans – holiday dinners, festivals, baking, etc. If you do not have a family locally Soldier Angels can help you to adopt a family.
  • Treat a service member or veteran to a holiday stocking filled with items to bring them some cheer. If you don’t have someone in your local area, Soldiers Angels Stockings For Heroes is a national organization doing this. https://soldiersangels.org/holiday-stockings-for-heroes/
  • Offer to board a military family’s pet while the family goes on vacation or takes a trip. Dogs on Deployment or PACT Military Foster Program
  • Donate to local or national military support programs or gift your airline miles to Hero Miles Program.  It supports wounded, injured, and ill service members and/or their families who are undergoing treatment at a medical facility.

We hope you and your family will consider doing something to recognize our military families this month. Also, if you have a family with kids, take them to visit a war memorial and discuss the meaning of service and sacrifice, and that this is something to remind us of the people who served in and died as a result of war. Help them understand the sacrifices of our military families to make our lives better and ensure our basic freedoms. I have been told by friends who are military families that even the “little things” can make a big difference to a military family. Please join us in celebration of National Military Families Month by adopting or supporting a military friend or support organization in 2020.

Written by Jennifer Sims and Paula Davis