On Sunday, March 24th, I attended a Vietnam Veterans recognition event in Forest Lake, Minnesota. This was their 6th annual event and very well done! It was especially moving when the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran spoke. Her father had died and Agent Orange was believed to be the contributing factor in his illnesses. It was this example of a daughter’s love that magnified the impact our Veterans have on their immediate and greater families. Veterans are a key part in the foundational structure of our society – the family unit! Our goals in caring for Veterans must include their spouses and children.
During the month of April, the State of Minnesota will recognize the Military Child. The goal is to emphasize the important role military children, regardless of age, play while a parent or important adult is serving or has served. The children of service members sacrifice a great deal when their parent is deployed or are suffering from the impact of their service.
Military members volunteer, but their families are drafted. The importance of recognizing the sacrifices families - especially children - make cannot be over emphasized. We can be proud of our tradition of honoring not only our service members but the family as well.
During this month, Governor Mark Dayton will send current military children a letter of gratitude in honor of their service and sacrifice. In 2012, Governor Mark Dayton sent over 1,000 letters to military children in Minnesota.
Month of the Military Child was first celebrated in April 1986 under former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Too often, when we as Veterans give our support to service members and newly returning Veterans, we forget there are others in their lives that also need our support. I ask that we all take some time this month to assist these young people and honor them.
Through this program, service members can nominate their children to receive a letter of “thanks” straight from Governor Dayton. To register a military child to receive a letter from the Governor visit http://www.mdva.state.mn.us/child/index.htm.
Communities can also do their part to recognize military-connected youth during Month of the Military Child by wearing purple on Purple Up Day, which will take place April 15. Purple Up Day shows support of military-connected youth and raises awareness of their sacrifices.
When April comes to an end, let’s not let the concept behind this program end. I challenge you to continue to recognize the sacrifices of our youngest members of society all year long. I guarantee it will impact them more than you ever realize, for years to come.