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Get Your Purple On to Honor Our Military Children

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Thursday, April 15, is “Purple Up!” day, a time for Americans to show their support for military families.

We proudly support our active duty servicemembers and veterans. We also recognize the challenges that military spouses face in seeking education and employment.

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But military children, affectionately known as “brats,” face their own challenges such as constant relocation, having to make new friends every few years and leave old ones behind, and deal with parents who can be away for long periods of time on deployment.

Purple Up! is not a Defense Department program, but a grassroots effort that began in 2011 as a way to honor the sacrifices military children make every day for the nation, often without realizing it.

Why Purple?

According to the website Military Benefits, “there’s a tradition in the military referring to the color purple; one use of the color involves the phrase “purple suit,” which can refer to a military activity or organization that includes civilians and/or multiple branches of the military.”

Image courtesy DoD

In fact, the entire month of April is designated as the Month of the Military Child, underscoring the important role military children play in the armed forces community. Sponsored by the Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy, the Month of the Military Child is a time to applaud military families and their children for the daily sacrifices they make and the challenges they overcome.

The Month of the Military Child is the legacy of former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. He established the Defense Department commemoration in 1986.

Often, we put the needs of the mission ahead of our own family considerations. I moved my own kids numerous times across the United States based entirely on the needs of the mission.

Getting orders to someplace new, especially overseas, is always exciting and yet bittersweet: It’s the start of a new adventure, but it also means leaving behind family, close friendships and familiar trappings.

The least we can do is recognize these sacrifices made by kids; sacrifices that will stay with these children well into adulthood.

How to get involved

The site Military Benefits recommends the following:

  1. Wear Purple on April 15th
  2. Go grassroots and make requests of your schools, elected officials, and local businesses to wear purple on April 15th in support of the occasion
  3. Recognize military children on April 15th
  4. Involve schools, sports teams, youth organizations, clubs, after school programs, fraternal organizations, social clubs, coworkers, members of your organizations
  5. Publicize military installation events scheduled on Purple Up! Day
  6. Request that your local school newsletters/newspapers/social media publicize Month of the Military Child events and activities hosted by the installation/community on or around the 15th
  7. Partner with local schools to find creative ways schools can contribute to the celebrations on April 15th
  8. Host an assembly for Month of the Military Child
  9. Ask local, regional, state, and federal officials to wear purple on Purple Up! day
  10. Request local businesses, stores and restaurants to post a Purple Up! message

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

Wes O’Donnell is an Army and Air Force veteran and writer covering military and tech topics. As a sought-after professional speaker, Wes has presented at U.S. Air Force Academy, Fortune 500 companies, and TEDx, covering trending topics from data visualization to leadership and veterans’ advocacy. As a filmmaker, he directed the award-winning short film, “Memorial Day.”

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