Our Military Kids (OMK), USA
Katherine Hughes on December 10, 2018 in Health & Sanitation
Deployments of military members, especially military members who are parents, causes a large strain on their families and communities. Many children develop anxiety and stress, for example, as a result of the deployment. This can lead to a drop in the child’s performance inn school, participation in extracurriculars, and happiness overall, which can also affect the family as a whole. Our Military Kids (OMK) provides people grateful for the sacrifices of military families a way to give back.
OMK was founded in 2004 to support military families after September 11. It began to exclusively help Reserve and National Guard military families, but in 2008, the organization expanded to include children of Wounded Warriors of any branch of the military. Gretchen Hitchner, the communications director for OMK, described the mission of the organization. “While ‘Thank you for your service’ is a familiar phrase to military families, it does not convey the enormity of gratitude for the sacrifices made on behalf of our nation. Since 2004, Our Military Kids has provided grateful Americans a meaningful way of saying ‘thank you for your service’ by providing grants to the children of our deployed Guardsmen, Reservists, and Wounded Warriors of any branch, to participate in an extracurricular activity of their choosing.”
Specifically, OMK provides grants to military families to give children a way to deal with their stress and anxiety caused by their parent’s deployment. These grants can cover the cost of sports, clubs, fine arts classes, or even tutoring - whatever the families decide would be beneficial for the kids. Since its founding, OMK has provided more than 62,000 grants worth more than $25 million to military families throughout the U.S. 71% of the grant recipients saw an improvement in their child’s academic performance, 94% saw a decrease in their child’s stress and anxiety and an improvement in the servicemember’s morale, and 98% saw an improvement in the whole family’s well-being. These numbers clearly show the important impact OMK has on the lives of the families it helps.
OMK, although an important organization in the lives of many families, is small. This is something Ms. Hitchner believes is an area of improvement for OMK. “Because we are such a small nonprofit with limited funding, we’re only able to provide one grant per deployment, to cover up to six months of an activity. With deployments lasting a year, we’d love to be able to offer a second grant to help children get through the entire year of their parent’s absence.” However, the funding OMK does receive is used properly. They have received multiple four-star Charity Navigator ratings, which is a charity watchdog. 92 cents of every dollar received by OMK is spent on children’s programs and supporting the families of military members overall.
If you would like to support OMK’s mission and help the children and families of military members, please visit their website at https://ourmilitarykids.org/. You can donate individually, host a fundraising event, or support OMK through other, unique ways, such as through stock donations or shopping on smile.amazon.com and choosing Our Military Kids as your charity to support.