Month of the Military Child event to recognize the sacrifices of military families in Interior Alaska

Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 9:12 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - April is recognized nationally as the Month of the Military Child, a time to bring attention to the unique challenges facing the children of those who serve.

To honor their sacrifice, Fort Wainwright is working with the Fairbanks North Star Borough to host an event at Pioneer Park’s Civic Center on Saturday, April 15.

Fort Wainwright Garrison Commander Colonel Nathan Surrey is scheduled to give opening remarks.

The event will then continue with live music and informational booths from businesses and organizations around the community.

Booths will feature interactive activities like crafts and photography geared toward grades 1 through 6.

A hiring fair will accompany the festivities. Janet Farris, Fort Wainwright School Liaison Officer, said, “We have been planning this event since the fall. I would say probably around September, that we’ve brought together Parks and Rec, myself and other Fort Wainwright organizations, Eielson Air Force Base organization, and the school liaison officer at Eielson and the school district. So this is a very-much partnership of making sure this is as successful as possible for military-connected families and all families in general in the borough.”

This is the first year the free event is being held in partnership with the borough.

It will include government and civilian vehicles community members can see and touch.

According to Katherine East, Recreation Specialist with the Fort Wainwright MWR Special Events Team, preparing the event has shown her that “the Fairbanks area and the North Pole area are very used to the military community, so everyone was very grateful to come together and partner on this event. It is something new, and we wanted to just kind of break the barrier and just kind of showcase the month of the military child off post and get everyone together, just kind of make it welcoming to the whole community.”

Children of military families experience a variety of stressors.

These children are likely to undergo more frequent moves than the general population, often every two years.

They also face the possibility, and sometimes reality, of having a parent deployed overseas.

There are things the Fairbanks community can do to help. “Be welcoming. Welcome them into your loving arms, making sure that they’re included, making sure that you talk to them and make sure their social and emotional wellbeing is there, because that’s what’s affected most, is their social and emotional wellbeing, so just make sure, just a simple ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ and let them know you’re there for them,” Farris explained.

When asked about some potential advantages to being a military child, East said, “Being in the military community, you travel all over the world, so with that you learn new cultures which gives you a really great perspective on life as such a young youth. You’re very good at making new friends because you have to as soon as you move to a new location, so I think is something that all military youth have as an advantage.”

Attendees at the event are encouraged to wear purple.