Children whose parents serve in the military are faced with adventures, challenges and sacrifices unlike many other kids. Many military families frequently move around the globe or have a parent deployed for long periods. But military children also are similar to everyone else in many ways.
In April, the “Month of the Military Child,” a new campaign seeks to highlight those similarities. The Biden Foundation’s “Picturing Home” program invites military kids to express their idea of home through writing, art and photography. Those submissions will be featured on the foundation’s website and social media channels. Jill Biden, former second lady of the United States and a lifelong teacher, worked on this effort while her husband served as vice president, and honoring military families is one of the foundation’s priorities.
“We recognize military kids and thank them for the sacrifices they make to keep our nation safe,” Jill Biden in a news release. “We also recognize the value of building bridges between military-connected and civilian children. Through ‘Picturing Home,’ we celebrate the beauty of what makes our students unique — but we also celebrate those things that make us more similar than we think.”
The idea of “home” can be just about anything, including a family member’s house, a specific tradition or even just a memory. The campaign aims to educate people on what it’s like to be a military child and build a community of support through finding what brings children together. “While we can celebrate [the experiences] that make military kids unique, we can celebrate what makes us similar, and we wanted to do that through the concept of home,” said Mala Adiga, Biden Foundation policy director for military families.
About 2 million children have parents on active duty or in the National Guard, according to the U.S. Defense Department, and the average child in a military family will move places six to nine times during his or her school years. Developing friendships and holding them can be difficult. Relocating frequently also can cause complications with doing extracurricular activities, and in school performance and other areas.
“There is a lot of adventure in being a military kid. Some have the opportunity to live overseas in places like Japan and Germany and experience a new culture. And that is really unique to them, and it is not something that a lot of kids get to do,” said Rory Brosius, the adviser for military families at the Biden Foundation. That adventure, she said can build resilience.
According to the Military Child Education Coalition, schools are often not aware that they have military children in their classrooms or simply lack the services to support those children’s needs. During the Obama administration, Jill Biden worked with first lady Michelle Obama on the Joining Forces program, which focused on educating schools about supporting military families and educating civilians about their lifestyle.
“Military-connected children hold a special place in my heart, and not just because I’m the grandmother of two of them,” Biden said in the news release. “Our military children serve their country right alongside their moms and dads.”
Want to contribute to the “Picturing Home” project — or just see what other kids are saying? Ask a parent and go to bidenfoundation.org/picturing-home.