4-H members reach out to military kids

By Pam Bryant

4-H LogoSouth Carolina 4-H clubs are helping children of military families live a somewhat normal life while their parents are deployed in the war on terrorism.
   
“Operation Military Kids offers positive youth development programs while their parents are away,” said Barbara Brown, Clemson Extension agent and program liaison. “We also work to mobilize communities to offer broad-based support for the families and youths of deployed military members, especially National Guard and Army Reserve families.”
   
More than 10,000 South Carolina Army and Air National Guard are serving in support of the war. Currently, more than 2,800 troops are deployed abroad while others are preparing to go overseas for the second time.
   
“Many people ask what they can do to help with the war on terrorism,” said Brown. “This is something we can all get involved with.” Hero packs are prepared by 4-H members for children of deployed military parents. “The youth whose parent is serving in the war on terrorism is also a hero because he or she also has to sacrifice due to the war.”
   
South Carolina is one of 15 pilot states in the national program. Operation Military Kids is a statewide effort to create community support networks; deliver recreation, social and education programs; help military kids cope with the stress of knowing their parents may be in harm’s way; collaborate with schools to ensure that staff are attuned to the needs of military students; educate the public on the impact of the deployment cycle on soldiers, families, kids and the community as a whole; and become a part of the ongoing 4-H program where there are military families.
   
A spring break camp was held for about 50 youth in March at Clemson’s R.M. Cooper 4-H Leadership Center near Summerton. Some had no military connection and others whose parents are in the Guard and Reserve or stationed at the state’s military bases (Shaw AFB, Charleston AFB, Beaufort Navy/Marine Tri-Command, and Ft. Jackson).