Operation Hero is a free military after-school program for kids in grades 2-8, designed to help students cope and adjust to the unique challenges they face. Nicole, a military spouse and teacher for Operation Hero in Ft. Bragg, shares four ways the program helps kids and their parents.
A Military After-School Program Provides Stability for Kids During Uncertain Times
For many military families, moving from place to place is the norm. Each move includes its own unique set of challenges, insecurities, and adjustments — all of which come along with the territory of military life.
Frequent moves coupled with deployment separation can take a heavy toll on military kids. Not only are family routines disrupted, but older children may also fear for the safety of their deployed parent. Young children may not even understand why a parent is leaving and fear they’ll never return. Military life can be unpredictable and stressful for kids, which is why military family support is so critical.
“It's sad because [we] come and go so frequently. And we're all moving, and we are going overseas and traveling that, you meet the best of friends and we all kind of come and go.” — Nicole
Programs like the ASYMCA’s Operation Hero, which is designed to support military kids, provide stability during times when life is full of uncertainty.
Every ASYMCA Kid Gets Access to Free, High-Quality Programming & Dedicated Staff
During the cost-free, 10-week program, the Armed Services YMCA’s Operation Hero focuses on different topics for character development, reinforced through interactive methods including journaling, art, and other independent and group activities. Dedicated staff cover a variety of social-emotional skills and topics like:
- Honesty and Integrity
- Feelings and Caring
- Deployments and Family Separations
- Problem Solving and Teamwork
- Friends and Family
- Bullying Prevention
Operation Hero Provides Military Spouse Support When It’s Needed Most
Civilian families rarely have to think twice about who their child’s emergency contact is because there’s almost always a relative, friend, or neighbor that is just a phone call away to help. Military families don’t know what it’s like to have a familiar face nearby, and not having local support can be really scary.
Many military parents find themselves in a situation where they need to designate an emergency contact and don’t know where to turn. But Nicole, and other Operation Hero teachers find their names and numbers on several emergency contact cards. Because, at the end of the day, they are military spouses as well and understand what it’s like to not have a support system to call on.
“For all these women to know that we're here in any way, shape, or form that we can help…even if it means just to cry in the lobby, that's why we're here. No judgment. No judgment to your kids. And we love what we do.” — Nicole
Operation Hero Helps Military Families Form Bonds That Last a Lifetime
The bonds shared amongst military families are like no other; and thanks to the Operation Hero program, walking into a room full of strangers is no longer such a daunting task for kids and their parents. For these military families, home is where the community is.
Even though military families frequently come and go, programs through the ASYMCA give kids and their parents an opportunity to forge relationships that can withstand the test of time and distance.
“We just look out for each other.” — Nicole
Right now, Operation Hero at Ft. Bragg serves 15 families in each 10-week program, and the program is offered at 17 of the military installations across the country.
But imagine if the program could serve 50 families at a time instead of just 15?
Please give today to expand Operation Hero’s footprint and help ensure that the Armed Services YMCA can continue to provide vital programs and military family support.