PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- Monterey military community children are busy celebrating the Month of the Military Child.

During this month, children at the Monterey Road Child Development Center and Porter Youth will have their days packed with fun participating in events such as a parade, military dress up day, crazy hat day, bike day, super hero day, pajama day and crazy hair day.

The activities are part of a month-long list of events the military community is sponsoring.

Established by then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger in 1986, Month of the Military Child recognizes some 1.9 million U.S. military children ranging in age from infants to 18 years old who have one or both parents serving in the armed forces, said Barbara Thompson, the director of DOD's Office of Family Readiness Policy.

"We want to highlight their sacrifices [and] support of the military member in their families, so it behooves us to take time from the busy calendar of our events and recognize military children," she said.

Permanent-change-of-station moves, deployments and training activities, among other facets of military life, can present unique challenges to children who must constantly adjust to distance, unfamiliarity and uncertain schedules, Thompson explained.

"That can be a real sacrifice, because each parent is a very important part of that child's makeup," she said. "It is hard to be a military child, and they're doing it super well."

Weinberger established the celebration to underscore the important role children play in the Armed Forces community. The activities and events reaffirm the Army's commitment to ensuring excellence in schools, child care and youth services as well as providing a strong supportive environment where children can thrive.

From deployments to new schools, military children are faced with unique challenges that ordinary youth their age never experience. Their ability to adapt to present and future changes deserves respect and admiration.

The month is a time to honor military youth for the important roles they play in contributing to the strength of the Army family.

Accordingly, garrison-level Child, Youth and School Services programs will hold special events to honor service members' children.

Garrisons worldwide are developing events and celebrations designed to recognize the sacrifices military children make and the support they provide to their Soldier-parent -- in some cases Soldier-parents -- and families.

CELEBRATING MILITARY CHILDREN
Locally, the Presidio is holding its Celebrating Military Children event at Porter Youth Center 10 a.m.-2 p.m. April 18.

The free event, which is open to military community members, focuses on educating parents and children about child-abuse prevention, safety, health and other local resources available in the community.

Additionally, this year's theme, "Their Lives, Their Stories" highlights the unique lifestyles, contributions and sacrifices military children make to the nation.

Each military child is invited to share his or her story on what it is like to be a military child for a chance to win prizes. The "Young Lives, BIG Stories" contest is open through April 30. Top prizes include an Apple Laptop, iPad, NABI, Xbox and Wii. Military children preschool through 12th grade may submit drawings or written projects. To enter, visit www.armymwr.com/momc-big-stories.aspx.

The Month of the Military Child creates awareness of the service -- and sacrifices -- of the nation's military's children. It is an opportunity to thank children for their support to the nation's war fighters, and recognize the important role they play in the strength of the nation by contributing to the strength of the Army family.

(Some information provided by IMCOM and American Forces Press Service articles.)