142nd Wing Celebrates the Month of the Military Child

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Alexander Frank
  • 142nd Wing / Public Affairs

PORTLAND, Ore. -- April marks the Month of the Military Child, and the 142nd Wing is hosting several events to celebrate the children of service members. Originally started in 1986 by then Defense Secretary, Casper Weinberger, the Month of the Military Child aims to recognize the needs and sacrifices of military-connected youth across the globe.

Throughout the month of April, children can submit artwork for a Nose Art Competition where one winner will have their artwork featured on the nose of a Portland Air National Guard Base F-15 Eagle. Additionally, the winner will receive a tour of the hanger, along with a personal photo of their artwork on the fighter aircraft. The contest is open to all Oregon military children 17 years of age and younger.

As the COVID-19 pandemic wanes, the 142nd Wing is also renewing efforts to offer multiple in-person events throughout the month. Chief Master Sgt. Amy Almond-Schmid, the 142nd Airman & Family Readiness Program Manager, expressed the importance of in-person events and the key role they play in re-connecting military children, and families to the greater military community.

“Last year, we hosted a slew of virtual events,” said Almond-Schmid, “coming out of COVID, we really wanted to bring focus to military kids and bringing families and culture back to the organization, and that meant being physically here on the base”

The first in-person event of the month brought military children to Portland Air National Guard Base for a “Plant Camp”. The event gave kids the opportunity to plant strawberries, identify plant life found in the forest, and even an opportunity to meet Smokey The Bear.

Josh Daker from the Multnomah Falls Forest Service and volunteer for the event stressed the importance of kids and families connecting with outdoor activities.

“There's a lot more than just what's at the trailhead”, Said Daker, “Getting connected to your spaces, whether that is your backyard, city park, or doing a short hike, you can always find something for the whole family”.

A second “Plant Camp” is scheduled for April 23rd at the Hoyt Arboretum in West Portland. The event is open to military children ages 6-12.

In addition to in-person events, Personal Finance Counselor, George Katsinis, plans to host two virtual workshops focused on teaching teens about money scams and financial safety on April 12th and 14th. These events aim to raise awareness about common financial pitfalls, and gives parents and teens a chance to discuss finance together.

“It’s important to become aware of money and learn how it works”, said Katsinis, “Kids are going to learn from their parents, and they're very much going to emulate what their parents do and how they handle money. Those connections of spending, saving and giving can start as kids are getting out of diapers and move from there.”

“Purple Up Day”, on Thursday, April 14th, is a day where individuals are encouraged to wear purple attire to signify their support to military connected children.

“The color represents all branches of the military blended together”, said Almond-Schmid, “Wearing purple is a visible way to show support and thank military youth for their strength and sacrifices”.

On April 16th, the Wing will offer a babysitting course for kids age 11-17. The course is taught in partnership with Oregon State University, and aims to give teens and adolescents a strong foundation on the principals of child care. The course will take place on Portland Air National Guard Base, at building 355 from 0800 to 1500.

The Month of the Military Child culminates on April 28th for Bring Your Child to Work Day at Portland Air National Guard Base. The event will include a demonstration of the Security Forces robot dog, a hanger tour, and various outdoor activities. It’s an event that aims to let military children see the impact of their parents’ work while also thanking kids for their own service.

“This is an opportunity for people who recognize that children and family readiness is truly a part of military readiness”, said Almond-Schmid, “It gives us all a moment to stop, observe what kids do for us as people, and what kids sacrifice being connected to a military family.”