NEWS | May 5, 2020

VNG honors youngest members during Month of the Military Child

By Staff Reports

RICHMOND, Va. — April was Month of the Military Child, a month set aside to recognize the support, courage, and sacrifice military children give through their involuntary service within our military family. The Virginia National Guard Youth Program honored National Guard Children in several different ways in April.

Throughout the month, the Youth Program initiated a program of online social media engagement, theming each week of the month to engage military families with activities, games, and educational tools to use during this time. This engagement included videos and ideas created by their own State Teen Panel, who shared content on at-home activities and crafts, including how to make COVID-19 masks.

“We have been very impressed at the leadership and engagement of our State Teen Panel this past month,” said Joe Duerksen, lead child and youth coordinator for Virginia National Guard Family Programs. “There have been several instances where the Teen Panel has come to us with ideas about how to reach and encourage our National Guard Youth around the state. A lot of the content and ideas we have shared online has come from them.”

In addition to the social media engagement, the Youth Program sent out digital packets and newsletters with information on free resources and educational tools for youth to hundreds of National Guard families across Virginia.

In recognition of the service and sacrifice, some Virginia National Guard youth received something special in the mail recently – proclamations from the Virginia Department of Education and recognition certificates signed by Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. A total of 465 signed up and registered for the program.

“We have seen our National Guard Youth step up and be resilient in so many ways. The proclamation and the certificate signed by the TAG point to their service and sacrifice,” Duerksen said. “We appreciate these youth year around, but it’s great to be able to highlight them during this particular month.”

Finally, on April 22, Purple UP Day was celebrated across Virginia. Purple UP is the day set aside in April when military youth and those who work with and support them wear purple to recognize the service of the more than 80,000 military children in Virginia. Purple is considered the official color of military youth everywhere as a combination of all the colors from each service branch. Photos were sent in and shared across their social media platforms of Purple UP support.

Looking ahead, the Youth Program is still planning its Annual Youth Camp to take place July 26-31, in Virginia Beach and two Back to School events scheduled for August.
“We are so excited for Youth Camp this year,” Duerksen said. “After what we’ve all been through, it will be great to get together again as a National Guard family.” 

For more information on these programs or to find out how you can become involved, please contact, Joe Duerksen, joe.m.duerksen.ctr@mail.mil. Like and follow their social media at www.facebook.com/VANGYouthPro and @VANGYouthPro on Instagram.