Event showcases sacrifices made by military children

By Observer Upload April 19, 2013 01:10 pm

by Pat Caldwell/For The Observer

A local event slated to be held at Cook Memorial Library next week will showcase the sacrifices made by children of the Armed Services.

The event, set to kick off at 5:30 p.m. Monday, is part of the Department of Defense’s Month of the Military Child.

Since 1986, the DOD has utilized April as the month to spotlight the commitment and challenges children of military families encounter. Especially since the War on Terror, children of military men and women faced unprecedented trials as their parents often deployed to war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq multiple times. 

“Kids are often affected (by a deployment) more than anybody. A year is a long time for a young child especially,” La Grande Library Assistant Children’s Librarian Celine Vandervlugt said.

Vandervlugt is no stranger to the toll a deployment can create. Her husband, Tim, deployed to Iraq in 2010 with Eastern Oregon’s 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment. Stationed in Balad, Iraq. Tim Vandervlugt and his comrades spent more than a year away from home.

“I think children of military families need to be honored,” Vandervlugt said.

The Monday gathering is a joint effort between the La Grande Library, the city and the Oregon National Guard’s Family Program.

Vandervlugt said the community is invited. She said that while the focus is on military children is also about the Union County community as a whole.

Because rural areas of the nation — such as Eastern Oregon — are not connected to an active duty military base, often the plight of military children goes unnoticed. Yet during the past 10 years, the 3rd Battalion deployed to Iraq twice. Those two deployments — and other overseas missions — impacted more than 2,000 children in Western and Eastern Oregon according to statistics from the Oregon National Guard’s Family Assistance Program.

And the deployments may not be over. Oregon’s 41st Infantry Combat Team is set to deploy to Afghanistan next year.