Since 2001, military families have experienced repeated separation. Since 9/11, 876,000 of the 1.9 million service members who have deployed are parents. Although it is the service member who is away from home, the children feel the stress of uncertainty – when will the separation end, whether their parent is safe, and wondering if he or she is going to come home “the same.” The National Military Family Association is dedicated to serving families and we recognize the need among military parents for more resources to help their children.
Our Operation Purple Program® is designed to reduce some of the stress and burden on military kids. In the past nine years, almost 46,000 military children have attended our summer camps held across the country.
They experience the uplifting effects of physical activity, the calming effect of animals, and the healing power of the outdoors to help kids learn new ways to reduce stress. Also available are licensed behavioral health professionals, there to help with the varying emotional and psychological needs of campers. Our camps help lower the kids’ stress by simulating deployed parents’ experiences. Kids speak with troops just back from war, explore helicopters and Humvees, taste meals-ready-to-eat, and play hide-and-seek with night-vision goggles.
The Operation Purple camps give children a break from war, friends to confide in, coping skills to handle mom or dad’s absence, and some fun to offset the extra responsibilities in their complicated young lives. These military children simply get to be kids again.