Military Children Honored for Their Service Too

Molly Morath waits to march in the parade honoring military children Monday morning at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, FL.

Military service is voluntary in the United States, but it’s a different story for the children born into military families. That’s an estimated 1.8 million children who face many unique challenges and stresses of military life not known by civilian kids.

“The frequent deployments often mom or dad is gone,” said Gail Mouse, director of MacDill’s Child Development Center 3. “As well as, they’re moving every two to three years. They don’t have the support systems that many of the civilian children have with having family right there.”

An unidentified military child marches in his "pint-sized" military uniform.

But those same challenges can also bond a family according to Erin Morath whose husband is with the maintenance squadron at MacDill Air Force Base.

“You really appreciate what you have when you have it because before you know it daddy’s gone again or we’re moving again and friends are gone again. So it’s really about appreciating what you have,” Morath said.

She and her daughter Molly Morath were among the 400 who marched in the Monday morning parade to honor the military children at MacDill Air Force Base.

Leading the parade was the MacDill Color Guard, a base fire engine and the Robinson High School Drum Line followed by preschool children waving flags, toddlers in costumes ranging from firefighters to pirates to robots. Some wore cardboard costumes to look like airplanes, cars and buses while others were pushed in strollers or walked hand-in-hand with their military parent.

One of several "cardboard" aircraft on display during the military children's parade at MacDill AFB.

Liz Waters, director of the Airmen and Family Readiness Center at MacDill Air Force Base and acting flight chief for the Airmen Family Services Flight, says many civilians would be surprised by the resiliency of military children.

“I think this is a time to honor them for what they’re doing to support their families,” Waters said. “They support the military just like their parents do.”

The Department of Defense recognizes April as the Month of the Military Child and encourages local bases to hold events honoring the children.

The Robinson High School Drum Line.

Part of that recognition extended to military families with children with autism. Kris Keyser coordinates all programs for special needs families at MacDill. Her ride in the parade was a golf cart decorated with blue balloons for the “Light it up Blue” campaign.

“Light It Up Blue is a global movement to kickoff Autism Awareness month,” Keyser said. “The Sun Trust building in downtown Tampa was all lit up blue. We gave away blue light bulbs to families housed on base.”

Sec. Shinseki: VA on Track to Break Claims Backlog

Official image of Secretary of Veterans Affair...

Official image of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A drastic reduction in the disability claims backlog was a top priority for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki when he took over the department three years ago.

“Our intent is to have no claim over 125 days,” Shinseki told American Forces Press Service. “And every claims decision that we put out the door [will be] at a 98-percent quality mark.”

The VA has been testing the new Veterans Benefit Management System in Providence, R.I., and Salt Lake City. Shinseki told Congress last month he believes this technology is helping VA “approach the tipping point in ending the backlog in disability claims.”

The VA is expected to initiate the system nationwide beginning this fall at 16 regional offices in September, with all 56 VA regional offices receiving it by the end of fiscal 2013, Shinseki said.

It’s been an uphill climb because during 2009 the VA produced 900,000 claims decisions, but also received 1 million new claims according to the American Forces Press Service. The next year, VA increased its claims decisions to 1 million, but received 1.2 million new claims.

“Last year, we produced another 1 million claims decisions and got 1.3 million claims in,” Shinseki said. “So the backlog isn’t static. The backlog is a bigger number than we would like, but it is not the same number as three years ago.”

Once the automated system is in place, Shinseki said, he believes the 125-day, 98-percent accuracy goals he set are achievable. “There is a lot on the line here,” he said. Yet, he’s confident because of the success the VA has had with automating the Post-9/11 GI Bill claims.

You can read the full American Forces Press Service article HERE.

TBI Research: Nanoscientists Developing Detection Tool

Photo courtesy of UNCG.

A nanoscience assistant professor at University of North Carolina Greensboro, Marinella Sandros, is working with a team to develop a device that will measure blood proteins to detect moderate TBI, traumatic brain injury.

Sandros wrote an opinion piece detailing the journey of discovery and teamwork for the News & Record online:

Currently, there are no medical tools available to objectively diagnose mild traumatic brain injuries. Only subjective testing is available. For severe to moderate TBI, a physician can detect morphological changes in the brain using an MRI or CT-scan, but for an mTBI there are often no changes that can be detected using these devices.

Therefore, these medical diagnostic tools are not reliable. With the help of the device we are making, we can look at the chemical changes that occur in the brain. If the blood-brain barrier, or the cells that separate circulating blood from the brain membrane, is breached following an mTBI, specific proteins are released into the central nervous system and then into our bloodstream. This device will be able to monitor these proteins.

You can read Marinella Sandros‘ full opinion article HERE.

More information on TBI research, detection and treatment is available through the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

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