Month of the Military Child

Military students celebrate Purple Up Day during Month of the Military Child. (DoDEA)
Military students celebrate Purple Up Day during Month of the Military Child. (DoDEA)

Each year, April is set aside as a military child appreciation month, officially known as the Month of the Military Child. With its creation in the mid-1980s, the Pentagon and other military support organizations and agencies use the month to recognize military kids for their sacrifice and bravery on the homefront.

The term "military brat" is a badge of pride worn by generations of kids who traveled the world with their parents, moving into adulthood with the knowledge that they have the strength to handle anything. Military children deal with separations, deployments, frequent moves and even their parents' injuries as part of the life they were born into or entered with their families.

Because purple is a color used to represent all military services, the theme "Purple Up" is used over the course of the month. joins with the Army, Air Force, Space Force, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard in recognition of our military kids.

Military Child Discounts

Some businesses offer discounts and freebies as a part of Month of the Military Child. Parents should check in their local area for specific programs.

Many businesses also offer discounts for military children. Check out these military discounts that celebrate military kids.

Military Child Events

Military bases worldwide offer events and celebrations during April as part of the Month of the Military Child. From carnivals and festivals, to giveaways and freebies, family officials spend the month making military children feel special. Parents should check with their local base for details on the events in their area.

On April 19, the Department of Defense Education Activity wants students to wear purple in celebration of the month and what they're calling "Purple Up" day. Rock your purple shirt no matter where you are!

Also, for the entire month of April, military kids can participate in free events, Purple Up Day and more thanks to the Army & Air Force Exchange Service.

The DoD's largest retailer will give away military "brat" patches at PXs and BXs worldwide all month. Military children can visit the customer service area at their local Exchange to receive a collectible patch while supplies last.

Also at Army & Air Force Exchange Service locations, five in-store events are planned for military kids to gather with friends and try out the latest games and toys at select stores: FurReal Baby Alive Event on April 1; Play-Doh Event on April 8; Hasbro Gaming Games Event on April 15; Beyblades Event on April 22; and Nerf Event on April 29. Look for more details at

Military Child Awards and Prizes

Military Child of the Year Awards

Each April, Operation Homefront marks Month of the Military Child by hosting a gala and awards presentation for their Military Child of the Year Awards. Each branch winner still will receive the $10,000 prize, a laptop computer and other donated gifts. In 2023, the gala will take place in Washington, D.C., from April 11-14.

The Military Child of the Year winners are selected through a nomination process that begins each fall. Children ages 13 to 18 are eligible for the awards, and awardees are selected based on their "scholarship, volunteerism, leadership, extracurricular involvement, and other criteria while facing the challenges of military family life," according to Operation Homefront.

Army & Air Force Exchange Sweepstakes

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service's sweepstakes will give away more than $9,000 in toys and Exchange gift cards to military kids. Authorized shoppers 18 and older can enter on their favorite military child's behalf at

Mental Health Resources for Military Children

The American Red Cross has resources to help military children with their mental health.

A series of courses offered online can help families connect with each other, particularly before and after deployments. They also give ideas for connecting with kids and developing a plan as a family when you are facing a military-related separation.

The Red Cross also offers free confidential mental wellness classes hosted virtually. The courses are designed to help military kids work through stress. To view the available courses, check the Red Cross website.

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  • A child interacts with a U.S. Marine with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), during the unit's departure from Camp Lejeune, N.C., to embark on a deployment at sea Feb. 6, 2018.  (U.S. Marine Corps)
  • Guests observe the static displays at the 2018 Yuma Airshow hosted by Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sabrina Candiaflores)
  • A child displays the dog tags he received as part the out-processing line at the 60th Aerial Port Squadron cargo warehouse, set up to host U. S. Air Force families for Kids Understanding Deployment Operations day, Oct. 21, 2017, Travis Air Force Base Calif. (U.S. Air Force/Heide Couch)
  • A  Soldier assigned to the 1st Battalion, 148th Infantry Regiment spends time with his Family after the unit’s call to duty ceremony Jan. 11, 2017, in Bowling Green, Ohio.  (Ohio National Guard/ Michael Carden)
  • A military child awaits the arrival of his dad during a homecoming at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., May 18, 2017.  (U.S. Marine Corps/ Cody J. Ohira)
  • A little girl holds her father’s hand during the 1-214th GSAB annual "Family Safety Day" in Hessen, Germany. (U.S. Army/Paul Hughes)
  • A U.S. Marine escorts a child to her seat during the Seventh Annual Mini Marine Corps and Navy Ball at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Oct. 21, 2017.  (U.S. Marine Corps/Donato Maffin)
  • A Coast Guard Cutter Valiant crewmember hugs his child Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, at Naval Station Mayport, Florida. The Valiant crew returned to homeport after a 60-day multi-mission patrol in the Caribbean. (U.S. Coast Guard/Ryan Dickinson)
  • A U.S. Army Dependent from the 1-214th GSAB exists one of the Battalions aircraft during their annual "Family Safety Day.” (U.S. Army/Paul Hughes)
  • Electronics Technician 3rd Class Tyler Hernandez meets his child for the first time following the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf's (CG 72) return to homeport. (U.S. Navy/Justin Wolpert)
  • CW3 Erik Herr carries his excited daughter on the annual 1-214th GSAB on their annual "Family Safety Day". (U.S. Army/Paul Hughes)
  • Families and friends reunite with Paratroopers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Mar. 19th at Pope Army Airfield on Fort Bragg, N.C. (U.S. Army/Sarah Goss)

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