NEWS | April 3, 2019

VNG youth opportunities in honor of Month of the Military Child

By Maj. Jenny Hartsock JFHQ Public Affairs

RICHMOND, Va. – For more than 30 years, the Department of Defense has recognized the month of the military child in April to underscore the important role military children play in the armed forces community. This month, everyone is encouraged to applaud military families and their children for the daily sacrifices they make and the challenges they overcome.

The Virginia National Guard celebrates and honors the children of the Virginia National service members. The Virginia National Guard Family Programs office exists for the purpose of supporting, educating, preparing families of National Guard service members. The Virginia National Guard Family Programs has a very active youth program, directed by Joe Duerksen. There are a number of exceptional opportunities within the Virginia National Guard Youth Program that is committed to their achievement and preparing them for a bright future.

First, to show how much they are appreciated, the National Guard Youth Program is saluting the children of Soldiers and Airmen with personalized certificates and proclamations. Service members who would like to their child to receive a personalized certificate and Month of the Military Child Proclamation should sign up at

Families that sign their child up will receive an envelope in the mail with a personalized Month of the Military Child Certificate and proclamation sometime during the month of April. To ensure receipt of your certificate this month, please register by 5 p.m. April 10.

Second, the National Guard Youth Program office is actively seeking participants to register for the 14th annual National Guard Youth Camp. The camp targets 8-12 year old dependents of current National Guard service members from around Virginia. This six-day, overnight camp has a broad range of educational, team-oriented, and resilience-building activities designed to strengthen emotional, social and community support of our youth. Registration is now open but is limited to 80 youth. The camp will be hosted July 28 through August 2 at the State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach. Teens who are interested in volunteering at the camp can contact Duerksen directly at

Registration, camp details, flyer and parent handbook can be found at

Third, the National Guard Youth Program has a State Teen Panel, which is comprised of 15-20 teenagers who are dependents of current National Guard service members. The STP is a group of National Guard teens who serve as statutory volunteers for the Youth Program. Their mission is to act as the voice for other National Guard youth in Virginia as they participate in service projects, assist with deployment support events and activities that strengthen their leadership and communication skills. Youth Programs assists the teenagers with public speaking, leadership skills, and character strengths through master resilience training. Teens who are interested can apply in the fall by completing a simple application as well as completing an essay. Any teen interested in joining the STP can contact Duerksen direct at email listed above.

Come fall, Youth Programs circulates scholarship information. There is a Scholarship Resource Guide that was created and will be updated and circulated each year. To ensure you do not miss this along with many other opportunities, be sure to sign up for the newsletter. A newsletter is distributed on a regular basis that includes volunteer opportunities, resource highlights, as well as upcoming events. Upcoming events include various youth trainings hosted around the state, back to school bash, college and career readiness events, just to name a few. To be added to the Virginia National Guard Youth Programs distribution email, visit

Mark R. Warner, U.S. Senator from Virginia, is hosting an Academy Day on April 27, 2019 at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville, Virginia. Any youth associated with the Virginia National Guard are encouraged to attend as there will be officials from all five academies as well as representatives from ROTC programs, Mary Baldwin University, Randolph Macon Academy, Virginia Tech, and Virginia Military Institute. More information on academy nominations and Warner’s service academy day can be found at
Tim Kaine, U.S. Senator from Virginia, is opening his application for service academies on May 1, 2019. You can find more information about his application process, here

In addition, in honor of military youth, everyone is encouraged to wear purple on April 10th, in honor of Purple Up Day for Military Youth. Post a photo of you wearing purple on social media and use #purpleup to show your support of military children.

Finally, Youth Programs is seeking dedicated and energetic individuals interested in working with military youth and teens. Volunteers assist with deployment events, photography, serving as a chaperone, mentor, or assisting with administrative tasks. Contact Duerksen for more information on how you can become involved with the National Guard Youth in the commonwealth.

Find and follow the Virginia National Guard Youth Program on facebook at or follow them on Instagram at @VANGYouthPRO

For questions, or information on how to become an adult volunteer, contact: Joe Duerksen at 804-236-7866 or Silena Motley at 804-236-7865

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