Iowa’s Operation: Military Kids (OMK) initiative builds communication networks and trusting relationships between Iowa State University Extension, military families, military family program staff, youth leaders, schools, veterans, and community organizations to provide positive youth development programs and community based support for children and families impacted by the increased mobilization and deployment of troops to fight in the Global War on Terrorism. OMK includes as key partners military kids and families who share their stories and actively participate in the project to improve the quality of life of other military families.
Iowa Operation: Military Kids supports military youth and their families through a variety of initiatives:
- Mobilization (MOB) Packets: MOB Packets were designed by military kids who have been through deployment. The military kids created and compiled information and resources to help other military kids cope with the challenges they may face throughout the deployment cycle. A letter of support written by the design team and some fun items are also included in the MOB packet. The MOB packets are age-specific so that youth are receiving information at an appropriate age and grade level. A grant from the American Legion of Iowa Foundation helps fund the MOB packet project.
- Speak Out for Military Kids (SOMK): Speak Out for Military Kids is a community service opportunity for OMK State Teams to train military and non-military youth to establish Speakers Bureaus to advocate for military-connected youth affected by deployment. SOMK trainings develop communication, leadership, and citizenship skills in youth participants.
- Mobile Technology Lab (MTL): This computer lab can be used to support programs such as Speak Out for Military Kids and a variety of events around the state. The labs are intended for use by all state partners. The Mobile Tech Lab can be used by youth to stay connected to their parent during a deployment. A child can video tape a message, burn it to DVD, create a card and package the entire production for mailing. The labs can also be incorporated into community events that support Military Families.
- Ready, Set, Go! Trainings: These trainings cover a variety of issues surrounding the effects of deployments on children and are an excellent tool in developing support networks for these young people. The training covers pertinent information such as an introduction to the military and its customs and culture, the five steps of the deployment process, dealing with the media, fostering resilience in young people and building community capacity to support military kids.