Our Military Kids is a non-profit organization that supports the children of deployed National Guard and Military reserve personnel and AW2 recently had an opportunity to chat with the program’s Director of Special Programs & Strategic Analysis, Mary Carolyn Voght, on how AW2 Soldiers and Families can utilize services and support programs provided by the organization.
Can you briefly describe how Our Military Kids provides services and support to children of deployed National Guardsmen and Army Reservists?
Our Military Kids supports the children of deployed National Guard and Military Reserve personnel through grants for extracurricular activities and tutoring. Such activities help these children cope with the stress of having a parent in a war zone. Our Military Kids grants are made to honor the sacrifices that military families make and to ensure that their children have access to sports, fine arts, or academic tutoring programs.
What services and support does Our Military Kids provide to children of severely wounded, injured, and ill Soldiers and Families?
Our Military Kids also awards grants for extracurricular activities and tutoring to children of severely wounded/ill service members. For these children, the stress and anxiety caused by a parent’s deployment do not end once their father or mother has returned home. Children of severely injured service members face new challenges that come with learning to adapt to physical, mental, and emotional changes in a loved one.
What are the eligibility requirements for military families to receive grants and support from your organization?
Children of severely injured military personnel between the ages of 3 and 18 are eligible for an Our Military Kids grant. Grant awards average $400 with a $500 limit per child. Qualified families complete a simple one page application and submit it along with the following documentation: 1) a brochure or flyer from the organization providing the activity, 2) a copy of the child’s military dependent ID, OR Form 1172, OR birth certificate, 3) a letter from a case manager certifying the service member’s status as severely injured, and 4) the most recent copy of the service member’s military orders. Our Military Kids evaluates each request and, provided all requirements are met, awards a grant paid directly to the organization providing the activity.
The following criteria are required for families to be eligible for an Our Military Kids grant.
- Service member must be a veteran of either OEF or OIF
- Service member must be classified as severely injured in one of the six categories designated by the Department of Veteran Affairs (burns, amputation, mental health, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, or PTSD)
- Service member must have a case manager who certifies the above information and recommends the service member’s family for the grant program
Your organization has grown a lot from when it was founded in 2004. Out of the millions of dollars in grants and support your organization has given out to thousands of military families, is there a particular event or story that stands out for you?
Our Military Kids recently helped a family experiencing significant difficulties ever since their father returned home from Iraq with severe nerve damage to his hand and PTSD. Unable to go back to his old job as an electrician because of his injuries, the Soldier constantly worries about the financial problems facing his family. He and his wife have had to charge groceries so that their children could eat and two of their daughters had to quit gymnastics because there was no money to pay the gym where they take classes. The family’s financial stress has also taken an emotional toll on the children, especially the middle daughter who was too afraid to tell her parents that she needed new shoes because she knew that they couldn’t afford to buy them.
Fortunately, the severely injured soldier’s case manager heard about Our Military Kids and encouraged him to apply for grants for his children. Two of his daughters are now re-enrolled in their gymnastics program and the middle daughter is considering signing up for piano lessons. “I just wanted on behalf of my family and myself, to thank you all so very much for doing this for us,” he wrote in a recent email to Our Military Kids. “It brings tears to my eyes as I am writing this to you all. I am so glad that there are organizations out there like this and people like you that support these efforts. To receive the grants and gift cards was such a blessing knowing that my girls will be able to continue gymnastics during these tough times.”
Does your organization have any special events coming up that you would like to share with the AW2 community?
Careerbuilders.com and WTOP are sponsoring an event recognizing military families and the Our Military Kids program on Tuesday, July 21 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.. We are still in the preliminary planning stages for this event but anicipate that there will be tickets available for AW2 Soldiers and their Families.
How can civilians and military personnel get involved with your organization?
Our Military Kids is always looking to increase our ranks of friends and supporters. We greatly appreciate financial contributions that help support our grant program. We are also grateful to everyone who helps spread the word about our program to the Guard, Reserve, and severely injured communities.
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