Each year our nation designates April as the Month of the Military Child to recognize and thank children of military families for the contributions and sacrifices they make living the military lifestyle.

The recognition is part of the legacy of former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, who established the commemoration in 1986. During the month, one day is selected as the day to “Purple Up! For Military Kids” and all are encouraged to wear purple in recognition of the strength of military connected youth.

Why purple? Purple is the color that symbolizes all branches of the military, as it is the combination of Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine red, and Navy blue.

This year Purple Up! Day will be celebrated Friday, April 13. More than two million children of active duty military have had a parent deploy since 9/11. I would encourage teachers to take time during the month of April to recognize and celebrate the Month of the Military Child. To learn about resources available to support Military Children, please visit militarychild.org.

Funding to help Maine veteran homelessness

Last week, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced that the state of Maine has received $116,000 to help address homelessness among veterans across the state.

The funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program and will be distributed to the Augusta, Bangor and Westbrook Housing Authority and Maine Housing.

Ending veteran homelessness will continue to take a collaborative approach from leaders at the local, state and federal levels.

Veteran Crisis Line

Did you know? Any veteran or military service member in crisis, or any person concerned about a veteran, can be immediately connected to the Veterans Crisis Line by using the Siri function on an iPhone. Simply say, “Call the Veterans Crisis Line,” and Siri will do so automatically, even if you don’t have the Veteran Crisis Line number saved in your phone contacts (1-800-273-8255). Android users can use a similar feature by stating “OK Google, call the Veterans Crisis Line.”

In addition, you can logon to the online chat at veteranscrisisline.net or send a text message (838255) if you are a veteran or service member experiencing an emotional crisis or know a veteran who is, especially when you're concerned about the risk of physical harm. To learn more about available resources, and identify warning signs, please visit veteranscrisisline.net today.

Golden Age Games

The Department of Veterans Affairs has begun accepting applications for the 2018 Golden Age Games. These games are the premier senior adaptive rehabilitation program in the U.S., and the only national multi-event sports and recreational seniors’ competition program designed to improve the quality of life for older veterans, including those with a wide range of abilities and disabilities.

The games are open to veterans age 55 or older who receive health care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The games will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Aug. 3-8.

A wide variety of sports will be offered during the games, including many that are for ambulatory, wheelchair-bound and visually impaired athletes.

To find out more about these games and to register online, please visit veteransgoldenagegames.va.gov/. Registration is open now through May 2. Maine has had several veterans bring home medals from previous years’ competitions and it will be exciting to see who participates in the 2018 games!

Joy Asuncion is an Honor Flight Maine board member, Maine Troop Greeter and Maine State Ambassador for the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. You can reach Joy at joyasuncion@roadrunner.com or 930-5640.