FORT HOOD, Texas - Joined by leaders from across the installation, Lt. Gen. Pat White, III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general, signed the Month of the Military Child and the Army Child Abuse Prevention Month Proclamations at the Lonestar Conference Center here March 23.
“It takes a village to raise them and it takes a village to let them grow and be the best that they can be,” said Col. Chad R. Foster, commander of U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Hood, about military children.
Month of the Military Child is a month to honor the important role of military children. Month of the Military Child was established by former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger in 1986, set aside to commend the role of military children for their daily sacrifices, challenges and triumphs, all reflected in this year’s theme, “Military Children and Youth: Standing Strong and Proud.”
“Day-to-day we’re focusing on the mission and this is a month to recognize how the families support the Soldiers, especially the children, and the sacrifices they make to let the Soldiers do what they need to do,” explained Kristine Caparco, outreach services director for Fort Hood’s Child and Youth Services. “The deployments, not having them (Soldiers) for holidays and birthdays … recognizing everything that they go through during their separation, when their Soldier is focusing on the mission.”
She said all the Fort Hood CYS facilities would be recognizing the resiliency of military children throughout the month of April, with several activities geared directly to the children or families. The various activities can be found in a digital booklet at www.hood.armymwr.com. Caparco is also encouraging people to celebrate military children on Purple Up Day, April 15, by wearing the color purple.
April is also Child Abuse Prevention Month, designated by former President Ronald Reagan in 1983 to end child abuse and neglect. The 39th annual theme is “All In to End Child Abuse.”
“You’re gonna share in this commitment,” the commander said as he invited everyone to stand with him as he signed the 2022 Army Child Abuse Prevention Month Proclamation.
The Fort Hood Family Advocacy Program and Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center Family Advocacy Program representatives were on-hand to explain their similar, but differing roles. While both program seeks to end child abuse, the Fort Hood FAP is a preemptive measure used to teach, while the CRDAMC FAP is sought after abuse has happened.
“We offer behavioral health support services – clinical intervention, conflict resolution, parenting education – those types of things to help support them as they’re trying to overcome these types of dynamics in their relationships,” explained Cmdr. Aaron Simpson, officer-in-charge of the CRDAMC FAP.
Simpson, who works at CRDAMC under the U.S. Public Health Service, said April is a time to raise people’s awareness that child abuse is happening.
While he hopes people think about it year-round, he said the month is used to heighten people’s awareness of things they may not see or may not realize is child abuse.
He said learned behavior is a problem in which they can adjust through education.
“If it was a form of discipline used by their parents and perhaps the parents before them, it sometimes carries forward,” Simpson added. “Parent education helps people understand that just because it was done in the past, doesn’t make it the right behavior now. As we increase people’s awareness, we see a reduction in these types of abusive behavior.”
The Fort Hood FAP offers education in relationship enrichment, and stress/anger/conflict. They also have several parenting resources, including a new parent support program, common sense parenting and child safety.
“As our children grow and function in multiple settings and environments, it becomes apparent that their wellbeing requires, not only the attention of their parents, but it also requires discern and support of all,” Foster said. “’All in’ means every day and all day, year round. Keeping our children safe is the priority.”