Operation: Military Kids is the U.S. Army’s collaborative effort with America’s communities to support children and youth impacted by deployment. Regardless of whether Families are experiencing deployment for the first time, the second time or another in a series of multiple deployments, OMK’s goal is to connect military children and youth with local resources in order to achieve a sense of community support and enhance their well-being.
Through a network of National, State and Local Partners, Operation: Military Kids provides access to youth programs and support services where military children live. OMK Partners organize special events, and participate in the Hero Pack initiative.
Operation: Military Kids’ primary focus is on the youth of National Guard and Reserve, the geographically dispersed families. We provide leadership to statewide educational support via training of adult and teen volunteers in regards to phases of deployment and youth focused activities dealing with deployment. Referrals to partners and others who provide support to military families is also a component of our mission. Texas is home to more than 173,243 military kids ages 6-18.
Creating awareness and understanding of the issues and stresses faced by military families and youth while building community partnerships to increase capacity of youth and families
Key elements of our program include:
Operation: Military Kids Volunteer Training
Operation: Military Kids invites you to EXPERIENCE deployment processing activities, LEARN about our program, BECOME a volunteer, IMPLEMENT OMK into your events…
Signing up with OMK means access to free deployment processing activities and curriculum. You will learn how to plan a day for military kids and how to report your event to OMK.
If you are looking for volunteer opportunities, OMK can connect you to military service providers looking for volunteers. If you are a service provider in need of volunteers, OMK can help you find volunteers and train them to use OMK curriculum and activities.
Great for staff and volunteers who work with military kids associated with FRSAs & FRGs, school deployment support groups, CYSS, and more! Use what you learn at military family events for emotional wellness and management, team building & deployment processing.
Speak Out for Military Kids (SOMK)
The Speak Out for Military Kids Ambassador program is a key component of OMK in Texas. Military and civilian youth ages 13-18 may be nominated by an adult or self nominated with references. To schedule and SOMK training with a group (prefer groups of 15-20) of teens in your area, give us a call! An ADULT advisor is required to provide local support and coordination with the group. Parental support is essential! Nominees attend a two day training course to become Ambassadors for the program. During this training participants develop public speaking/presentation skills, leadership and citizenship skills as they explore issues of deployment, methods of coping and avenues to share their own viewpoints and pointers with others. Thus, allowing them to “SPEAK OUT” for military kids in their respective areas of the state.
Community businesses, individuals, civic, church, school and other groups are encouraged to partner with Texas OMK by organizing and conducting a “Hero Pack” initiative in their local community! Demand for Hero Packs in Texas is HUGE due to extremely high deployments. Hero Packs are backpacks (or similar packs) filled with an assortment of items which are made available (pending supply inventory) to military youth who have a parent or sibling in their immediate family household deployed.
Hero Packs may be requested (pending availability) by FRG leaders for eligible military youth. Youth may NOT receive more than one Hero Pack regardless of the number of times the family member is deployed. Distribution is intended for geogaphically dispersed (Guard & Reserve and those not living on or near an active duty base) school age youth military youth who have a deployed immediate family member.
The Hero Packs (backpacks) are presented to qualifying youth at family readiness days, deployment briefings and other special activities by OMK team members and partners including 4-H and SOMK team youth members. This is our way of saying “thank you” to the military child for their courage and in recognition of all the special opportunities missed while their loved one is deployed.
Operation: Huggables is an initiative of our SOMK group. They (and others) collect new stuffed animals which are eventually distributed to military children. This is a small way of saying someone cares. It also gives the child something to hold and hug when times get tough! Huggables may be requested (pending availability) by FRG leaders and OMK partners for distribution at family readiness days, promotion events, deployment, reunion and other special events.
Ready, Set, Go – RSG! Trainings
These regional and community based “community briefings” help participants better understand military culture, the issues faced by military families due to the various stages of deployment, and some of the many free resources and support services available to support military families and communities. Participants are engages in role playing, discussion sessions and other learning techniques. Furthermore, RSG! trainings provide an opportunity for building community capacity as networks are formed to provide individual, group and community support services to our military families, especially those in geographically dispersed areas of the state!
Mobile Technology Lab (MTL)
The MTL is available at events for military kids to stay connected to their deployed loved ones. The MTL can be used in a variety of ways, including the creation of greeting cards, digital pictures, and video messages. OMK partners may check the lab out for use in support publicized activities for military youth and families. Specific inventory check-out and accountability guidelines must be followed by OMK partners who desire to use the lab.
Texas Military 4-H
Youth are invited to join a 4-H club in their community or on their installation! Youth who are eight years old and in third grade through 18 may join. 4-H opportunities are available on Texas installations including Fort Bliss, Fort Hood, Fort Sam Houston, Lackland AFB, Laughlin AFB, Goodfellow AFB, Sheppard AFB, Randolph AFB, Naval Air Station Corpus Christi and Naval Air Station Kingsville through their youth/teen programs office. Making new friends and getting involved in 4-H project areas such as food & nutrition, health, gardening, photography, fine arts, community service/leadership, dog training and other project areas are key to success in 4-H. NOTE: Projects vary at each installation. Activities may include club meetings; educational workshops, camps, county or project fairs, leadership conferences and many opportunities for recognition.