Expanding program confronts needs of military children

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  RianSimone Harris, Boys and Girls Clubs of America National Military Youth of the Year, speaks during a panel discussion on Capitol Hill, Sept. 8, 2016. Courtesy of Boys & Girls Clubs of America
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RianSimone Harris, Boys and Girls Clubs of America National Military Youth of the Year, speaks during a panel discussion on Capitol Hill, Sept. 8, 2016. Courtesy of Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Expanding program confronts needs of military children

by: Lauren King | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: September 09, 2016
 WASHINGTON — When Col. Gregory D. Gadson was wounded in Iraq, his family was immediately uprooted from Fort Riley, Kansas to Washington, D.C.
 
Gadson's legs were amputated, and he went through extensive physical therapy.
 
To this day, Gadson said, he isn't sure how his family got through it. "I wasn't the only one wounded," he said. But he credits the Boys & Girls Club on post with helping his teenage children.
 
The Boys & Girls Clubs have offered support services on military installations since partnering with the Armed Forces in 1991. There are currently 500 youth centers on military installations that provide more than 460,000 children with the same programs that the traditional clubs provide, according to the agency's website.
 
At the time, Gadson said he didn't even realize how much his children were getting out of having a place to go with others who were dealing with some of the same issues.
 
"Intuitively, I understood that they had a support network," he said. "A place to go."
 
A new military public-private partnership aims to extend these types of programs into communities where the children of servicemembers or veterans aren't able to access them.