Ada Sanchez, 10 years-old, has spent countless birthdays without her dad, and this year he will miss her elementary school graduation. Ada is part of a military family. Her dad is on active duty in the Army, deployed to different countries for months at a time. “Being a military kid is both challenging and rewarding. When my dad leaves, the man of the house becomes my dog, Oliver. I understand that my dad is helping this country, but sometimes it makes me feel really sad.”
Ada was one of our many special guests at the Third Annual Month of the Military Child Celebration, hosted at the Los Alamitos Training Base on April 27, 2017. This special annual event was created by the Children & Families Subcommittee of the Orange County Veterans & Military Families Collaborative which includes veteran and military support organizations focused on the special needs of military families and their children.
Ada was joined by many other young guests who bravely spoke about their personal challenges of frequent relocations and the deep impact of extended parent(s) absence, as well as a sense of deep admiration for their parents. They hoped that greater community awareness of their unique experience will help friends and others to be more understanding and supportive. “I am proud that my dad serves in the army,” Ada said. “Seeing all the soldiers working hard to protect our country makes me happy! Yes, being a military family is not easy, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Lori Pack, CEO of Child Guidance Center, welcomed everyone. “You embody strength, resilience and courage, and we want to honor you today,” Pack said. “You unknowingly serve and sacrifice so much alongside your parents. Thank you for all the quiet ways you serve. You are seen, and you are appreciated.”
The 65 children in attendance – ranging in age from 3 months to 23 years - were recognized and honored during a special coin hand-off ceremony, a military tradition used to honor the bravest of America’s soldiers. Free backpacks filled with gifts were passed out and the kids and parents enjoyed a family meal with dessert and enjoyed fun crafts and activities thanks to the generosity of event sponsor Praxair, New York Pizzeria, and Los Alamitos Training Force Base, and the many other generous community businesses, service organizations and volunteers.
Special guests included Col. Arnold Strong, California Senators Janet Nguyen and Josh Newman, and OC Supervisor 4th District Shawn Nelson
Did you know that there are more than 70,000 military-connected children in Orange County, including children of Veterans, Active Duty, Reserve, Guard and Fallen, and that number is growing every day? Children of military face unique and often difficult challenges such as frequent moves and loss of close friendships, multiple parental deployments, parent re-entry challenges and even the permanent loss of a parent. Military families are often affected by trauma, substance abuse, combat injuries and post-traumatic stress.
While SFSC is currently supported by The County of Orange Mental Health Services Act, Orange County Community Foundation, Orange County United Way and Pacific Life Foundation, we need the help of generous local businesses and private donors to help us maintain our care and assist more families in need.
For more information about how you can get involved, contact Strong Families, Strong Children Administrative Program Coordinator Alivia Nelson at (714) 953-4455, ext. 661, or firstname.lastname@example.org