Last Friday was a very special day for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Prior to our inaugural Military Youth of the Year ceremony in Washington, D.C., BGCA held another first-of-its-kind event, the Great Think.
We convened leaders of the military, nonprofits, business, government and academia to exchange ideas and opinions about how we can all better serve the sons and daughters of our military families.
Today, 1.9 million children have at least one parent serving in the military, with Clubs serving nearly 500,000 of them. That means 1.4 million more of these kids could be benefiting from the resources Clubs provide, but aren’t. And that’s a problem.
Kids from military families deal with vastly different challenges than their civilian peers. They face struggles such as having a parent, or parents, deployed, for months and even years. Then there’s the impermanence of military life, which sees a typical kid move up to nine times by the time they finish high school. Left unaddressed, these and other issues can have a resounding impact on the long‐term health and well‐being of our military youth and their families.
But no single entity or agency can address these issues. It will take the collective effort of our nation’s institutions and organizations to galvanize the country and assemble the necessary resources to take action. The Great Think’s purpose was to ensure we’re all helping military kids to face these unique challenges today and for the long term.
At BGCA, we’ve been supporting military youth and their families for 22 years and counting. Now, we need to do more. How can we, as a nation, deepen our impact to serve more military kids and their families? How do we all work together to create a safety net, if you will, to ensure these families know where to turn when they need support?
It’s questions like these that were posed at the Great Think, resulting in numerous thought-provoking ideas and strategic proposals from the thought leaders in attendance. A summary of the Great Think will be shared in a forthcoming BGCA white paper. Suffice it to say, Boys & Girls Clubs are dedicated to doing all we possibly can to meet the ongoing needs of our brave military families and their children.