Georgia has several military bases in all branches of the military, with thousands of men and women actively serving. Recognizing the challenges that military families face moving across the country from base to base, the Georgia Children’s Cabinet dedicated November to raising awareness of programs that focus on supporting our military families. The Cabinet celebrated this month with visits to military bases across the state which house programs that support the children and families of their servicemen, servicewomen, and their communities. With the frequent relocations of these families, many military programs in Georgia help ease the moving process with programs specific for their community needs. Each site that was visited was unique to their perspective base but all of their outcomes were positive and community driven. Military Support month strives to bring attention to these great programs that help Georgia’s military families and strengthen communities.
Georgia Children’s Cabinet co-chairs, First Lady Deal and Director Katie Jo Ballard, visited the Connections Club of King’s Naval Base in Camden County. The Connections Club serves to lessen the social, emotional and academic impact of the relocation experience for military children in grades 3-12 through the establishment of the club in seven of Camden County’s twelve public schools. They visited St. Mary’s Middle School where three Connections Club leaders from sixth, seventh, and eighth grade gave a tour of the school and program to the group. First Lady Deal also spoke to a group of 6th grade honor students and their parents who were being recognized at a school breakfast for their academic achievements on the importance of education and parental engagement, and she thanked the military parents’ for their service.
First Lady Deal and Director Ballard were joined by a Department of Juvenile Justice representative, Albany RYDC facility director Sandra Cawthon, in Dougherty County for a visit to the Marine Corps Logistic Base. The base’s program provides increased educational attainments and career development by serving spouses and youth of military families. They heard from numerous military family members who benefited from the program such as a student who found a place at his new school and future career goals through the student activities and military wives who found careers and a since of community though the program’s volunteerism-focused workshops and trainings.
Military Support Month continued at Fort Benning and First Lady Deal and Director Ballard’s visit to the base’s Reach out and Read program. Reach out and Read has partnered with on-base pediatricians at Fort Benning and other bases to provide age appropriate books to children 0-5 years old and their families at each well care checkup visit and to encourage the importance of the parent reading with their child. First Lady Deal and Director Ballard were able to see the program in action during Emily Hughes checkup with pediatrician Dr. Katie Westerfield who then presented Emily and her mother, Jenna, with a learning book. First Lady Deal emphasized the importance of parents reading with their children and read to a group of on-base children.