More military children will be able to attend this year's free Operation Purple summer camps around the country — but the April 6 deadline for applications is looming.
The National Military Family Association is able to send about 2,600 military kids ages 7 to 17 to the weeklong camps at 24 locations, thanks to a partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project. NMFA created the program in 2004 as a way for military kids to have a fun and rewarding experience in the company of other kids with similar experiences in military life.
Priority goes to children who have had or will have a parent or guardian deployed within a 15-month window. NMFA has also carved out another priority category for the camps this year that will help more children of wounded warriors attend. Children of service members who incurred service-connected wounds, injuries or illnesses on or after Sept. 11, 2001, are given priority. They were previously eligible, but this year, the deployment window doesn't apply to them.
Remaining camp slots can be filled by any military child registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. The camps offer various activities, but depending on the location and age group, could include swimming, hiking, service projects, arts and crafts, zip lining and rock climbing.
Officials urge families to apply to a camp close to home because transportation costs are not covered. For more information and to apply, visit the website.
Fitness memberships extended
Since 2008, more than 85,000 military families without access to military fitness centers have received free memberships to YMCAs and private fitness centers through the Military Outreach Initiative.
That program has been extended for another year, to March 2016. It's funded by the Defense Department and managed by the Armed Services YMCA, which has partnered with more than 1,500 community YMCAs and more than 1,400 national and independent fitness centers across the country.
Eligible are families of deployed National Guard and reserve members; active-duty troops assigned to independent duty locations; relocated spouses of deployed active-duty personnel; and troops in community-based wounded warrior transition units.
For more information, visit the Armed Services YMCA website..
Spouse financial counseling fellowships
Applications are due by April 17 for FINRA Investor Education Foundation's Military Spouse Fellowship Program, which pays for training and testing to earn the Accredited Financial Counselor designation.
The program is a partnership among the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education, the National Military Family Association and the FINRA Foundation. Spouse fellows have logged more than 400,000 hours helping other military families reach their financial goals, and 470 spouse fellows have graduated from the program, according to FINRA.
Spouses are serving their military communities as financial counselors at family centers, credit counseling and tax centers, financial aid offices and credit unions throughout the U.S. and abroad. The program was designed to not only provide spouses with a path to this career field, but to increase the number of well-trained specialists in this field who understand the unique financial needs of military families.
Current or surviving spouses of active-duty members, including Coast Guard, National Guard or reserve members, and spouses of military retirees are eligible. Spouses of members of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are also eligible. More information is at www.saveandinvest.org/militarycenter. Apply by midnight Eastern time April 17, at www.militaryspouseafcpe.org/application/.
These are just three examples of partnerships designed to make life better for military families.