Month of the Military Child 2023 – Taking Care of Our Military Children

  • Published
  • By Jessica L. Kendziorek
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

Since 1986, the Department of Defense has recognized April as the Month of the Military Child. This year’s theme is "Taking Care of Our Military Children," and has highlighted programs, resources and services available to support the overall well-being of military children, youth and teens.

The Military and Family Readiness Center offices on Keesler Air Force Base hosted Operation Hero during the March Unit Training Assembly in preview of April’s Month of the Military Child.

“This event was a huge success,” said Patricia Jackson, 403rd Force Support Squadron’s M&FRC section chief. “We had more than 200 families participating, with 36 agencies represented, and more than 40 volunteers at the event.”

The event is used to help families understand what their military member goes through when they get ready to outprocess for a deployment.

“While most Reserve military families don’t face the same challenges as active-duty military families,” said Jackson. “They do have some unique challenges of separation from family and dealing with child-care.”

When it comes to being separated from families, the differences between active military and the Reserve military can be a little different, with one such difference for 403rd Wing members being that some members travel a long distance just for their military drill weekend and miss out on seeing their families.

The DOD is committed to recognizing the unique challenges of military-connected children, youth and teens and ensuring that families are aware of the full breadth of support and resources that are at the ready to serve their needs, one such need is that of child-care services.

Jackson said that her office can assist Reserve members with finding childcare in the local area, but the members need to contact her office at 228-376-8253 for more information.

Other highlights for the Month of the Military Child 2023 include Military OneSource giveaways as well as the promotion of Child and Youth programs, podcasts, tools and resources available to military children, youth and teens. Throughout the month of April, DOD invites the nation to Purple Up—wear purple and share their pictures on social media to show their support for military children, youth and teens.

Parents can find more information about the Month of the Military Child 2023 events and ongoing resources for children, youth and teens by visiting

Another local resource available is the FOCUS project, which is the Families OverComing Under Stress. The FOCUS project helps to provide resilience training to military children, families, and couples, by teaching practical skills to help families and couples overcome common challenges related to a military life.

“For the month of the military child, FOCUS has been holding a coloring contest throughout April, and the contest sheets can be picked up at our office, the MFRC at the Sablich, and also at the Commissary,” said Debra Thomas, FOCUS services coordinator. “FOCUS holds events throughout the month, but our program different from other agencies in that it is an evidence-based training program, focusing on resilience skills that are active duty and activated Reserve and Guard couples and families.”

FOCUS helps the whole family communicate better, set goals and problem solve as well as helps with emotional regulation and triggers due to separation and transition.  Many couples use their skill training to be proactive for future events. For more information on the FOCUS project at Keesler, contact Thomas at 228-377-3453 or at

When it comes to family, the DOD also works with multiple stakeholders to build a vast support network that provides the best possible education experience for military-connected children and youth worldwide. School liaisons can help students realize their education goals and assist the parents with interstate compacts that make changing schools easier for children.

Other talented organizations that work with the DOD include the 4-H Club, Boys and Girls Club of America and Sesame Workshop to offer military parents and children’s resources and strategies for mental health, personal growth, and self-care.

Most of these resources are readily found on Military OneSource, which is the gateway to programs and services that support the everyday needs of service members and immediate family members of the military community. These DOD services can be accessed 24/7/365 around the world.

“Here at Keesler, we partner with the 81st (Training Wing) and start honoring our military children early in March, so both our active and Reserve families can receive the support and resources they need,” said Jackson. “But our office is available to assist members with any questions they have year-round.”

Jackson can be reached by email at or phone at 228-376-8253.