'Month of the Military Child' event canceled, but children still honored

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April is the Month of the Military Child, a month dedicated to the children of military personnel. But, like everything else right now, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how Minnesota is honoring the children. 

Along with spreading awareness of the sacrifices and difficulties those children make, there is an event that brings military families together. The annual Month of the Military Child Celebration is usually held at Mall of America; COVID-19 has caused 2020’s event to be canceled, but there are still ways for families to connect.

“We have an art contest going on; we also have a photo contest going on where families can submit a photo of kind of what it looks like to be a military family,” said Mel Johnson, Minnesota National Guard’s child and youth coordinator. 

“We make people aware that these kids are out there, they need a little extra love, support, appreciation for all the things they go through,” Johnson added.

Families can also submit to have their children receive a letter from Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Minnesota National Guard Veteran.

The steps being made to make sure the Month of the Military Child is not forgotten are creating positive impacts for families, including for Jennifer Eichten. She is a member of the Minnesota National Guard and a mother of three.

“Recognizing [my children] this month is really important because of all the sacrifices that they make,” Eichten said. “It’s very hard, but it’s also taught my kids a lot of lessons.”

Along with the annual event, this is also a time to spread awareness of the year-round resources for families

“I think it’s so important for our kids and families — especially when we are deployed,” Eichten said.

When she returned from her most recent deployment last summer with the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, Eichten said her kids, a 13-year-old and 10-year-old twins, seemed to have grown up.

“We’re just called on, on a moment’s notice, so our children have to be really flexible, and our loved ones have to be very supportive.”

Resources and how you can be part of the contests this year can be found on their Facebook page or the Minnesota National Guard website.