by Linda Jacobson

Military-connected children gathered in downtown Los Angeles last month to be honored and thanked for the sacrifices they make as part of military families.

“Because they don’t wear uniforms, military children often don’t get recognized,” said Nathan Graeser, community liaison/analyst with the Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families (CIR) at the USC School of Social Work and coordinator of the Los Angeles Veterans Collaborative (LAVC), said as he welcomed the families.

USC’s Building Capacity and Welcoming Practices in Military-Connected Schools also participated in the Month of the Military Child event, which was organized by multiple partners including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Office of Veterans Affairs, CIR, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the LAVC’s Families and Children Work Group, the Military Children’s Collaborative Group and Holman United Methodist Church.

About a dozen children each received certificates, backpacks and goodie bags. Proclamations were also read from U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, state Sen. Holly Mitchell, Mark Ridley Thomas of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Los Angeles City Councilmember Herb Wesson.

The event was also used to highlight LAUSD’s new effort to identify military-connected children by adding a box for military parents to check on their child’s Student Emergency Information Form. The question asks whether a parent is on active duty, a veteran or a member of the National Guard or reserves. The form also asks in which branch the parent serves and whether he or she is currently deployed.

The policy change occurred as a result of the collective efforts of the mayor’s office, the LAVC, the USC Building Capacity project, CIR, and the Military Children’s Collaborative Group.

“This is really going to help us identify where everybody is,” said Maria Castro, the coordinator for Student Health and Human Services in LAUSD. “We’re going to learn from you and we’re going to provide support.”

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