April is the Month of the Military Child

According to the US Department of Defense, military families move every two to three years on average, and military children change schools an average of six to nine times from the start of kindergarten to their high school graduation. This year an estimated 30 percent of military service members will move to a new installation.

Here in New Jersey, we have military students attending public schools in Burlington and Ocean counties:

  • Lakehurst School District has 77 military connected students in their school covering Pre-K through 8th grade.
  • Manchester Township School District has 50 military connected students enrolled in their six schools covering Pre-K through 12th grades and in their Navy JROTC program.
  • Northern Burlington Regional School District has 508 military connected students enrolled in two schools covering 7th through 12th grade, as well as an Air Force JROTC program. They have one school embedded Military Family Life Counselor.
  • North Hanover Township School District has 1058 military connected students enrolled in their three schools covering Pre-K through 6th grade. They have four school embedded Military Family Life Counselors.
  • Pemberton Township School District has 627 military connected students enrolled in their nine schools covering Pre-K through 12th grade and in their Army JROTC program.  They have five school embedded Military Family Life Counselors.

On Monday, April 3, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst held a Month of the Military Child Proclamation Signing, attended by LD-3 Congressman Andy Kim and other military dignitaries from across the base. A parade of preschoolers from the Childhood Development Center heralded the ceremonial proclamation signing. Two students were chosen as the JBMDL Youth of the Year--from Fort Dix, Joseph Hubbard, an 8th grader and from McGuire, Kela Loeak, a senior in high school. Congressman Kim delivered the keynote speech commenting on how proud he was of the children, especially their resilience and courage, noting that the constant moving, pressures of having a parent deployed, and changes in support can often take a toll on the families.

The US Department of Defense, in a press release, stated that it is "committed to recognizing the unique challenges of military-connected children, youth and teens and ensuring that families are aware of the full breadth of support and resources that are at the ready to serve their needs as they change schools, settle into new communities, and navigate military life in general.”

How you can help support military children

  1. Always the new kid, students might be really shy or really gregarious when interacting with their classmates. Ultimately, they are trying to figure out the lay of the land before they open up and feel safe in new situations. Let them go with the flow.
  2. When a parent is deployed, the student might be extra clingy to you as a stable adult figure in their life, or they might be easily distracted as they may be worrying about their parent. Give them assurance that you are around if they need anything.
  3. Little ones may be reluctant to part with a special toy, when toys are not normally allowed in the classroom, as it could be a special connector between child and deployed parent. Instead of telling them not to bring it, make a special place for it in the classroom where the child can see it from their desk, but it does not become disruptive.