ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Ten members of the 80th Training Command Teen Council participated in a joint meeting with members of the 412th Theater Engineer Command and the 75th Training Command teen councils in Alexandria, Virginia, July 27-31, 2015.
The meeting afforded the 80th TC teens an opportunity to share their ideas, challenges, and best practices with members of the 75th TC and the 412th TEC councils.
"Our teens are now more confident and they came into this event as leaders," said Francis Mitchell the 80th TC family programs coordinator. "Since our first council meeting 10 months ago, many of them have served in their communities as spokespersons, advocates and volunteers."
"Some have worked with school counselors advocating for other military youth to encourage school morale, while others have participated in clothing drives and served food to the homeless," Mitchell added.
During last year's meeting, where they all met for the first time in person, the council filled back packs with school supplies for children who at the time each had a parent deployed to Afghanistan. This year, they joined the 412th TEC and 75th TC teens to beautify the grounds of the Bethesda, Maryland, Fisher House, which provides free temporary lodging to military veterans and family members while their loved ones receive care at nearby Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
"It's cool to have our parents as Soldiers and be able to do this for other Soldiers and their families," said Zachary Forrest, whose mother is Col. Sandra Forrest, logistics director 80th TC.
Each two-star command in the Army Reserve is required to have a teen council that works with Child, Youth and School Services to support readiness and enhance quality of life by reducing conflict between mission requirements and parental responsibilities.
The 80th TC Family Readiness Programs office initiated the council with guidance from the U.S. Army Reserve Command to facilitate the development of leadership skills for the youth, and to ensure they have a forum to voice their needs and concerns as military family members. Council members plan and execute initiatives that support youth and families across the command.
Since they're all from various locations across the country, the council conducts monthly meetings via conference call. They also communicate through an ongoing group text message and other phone messaging applications.
During a breakout session, the teen counsels discussed creating a phone application that would show benefits available to military teens in their respective areas.
"I think it's a good and creative idea," said Gregory Peloquin, son of Col. Marisa Peloquin, commander, 97th Training Brigade. "We might be able to incorporate parts of the app into websites that are already out there, like Military Kids Connect."
Gregory represents the 80th Teen Council as a member of the Army Reserve Teen Panel. The ARTP gives teens opportunities to develop strategies and implement solutions regarding issues they face as military youth.
"I'm definitely going to present the idea for the app to the teen panel the next time we meet," Gregory said.