Military children in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area are invited to audition for spots in a vocal performance program offered by the Center for American Military Music Opportunities.

Auditions will be held at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at the USO Metro at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

No previous musical experience is required. Those eligible are children ages 16 and under who have one or more parents serving in the military. There are frequent openings in the program, officials said, as the military children's parents are transferred to another duty station.

The goal is to have the CAMMO Kids choir perform at least once every quarter, with recital performances in the spring. Practices are held at least four times per quarter, at 2:30 p.m. Sunday's at the Fort Belvoir USO.

After children have been accepted into the program, they will be notified of upcoming solo opportunities, practices and performances. They can opt out of performances and rehearsals if there is a conflict.

Coaches are local active-duty and veteran musicians with specific experience working with children and children's voices. The experience helps children develop discipline, through practice; leadership, by working in an ensemble; problem-solving skills, by working toward a common goal; and creativity, as they express themselves in their own unique ways.

Parents whose children are interested in the program should contact Cathie Lechareas at or Christal Rheams at by Friday, Sept. 9. 

CAMMO is a nonprofit organization run by veterans for veterans, active-duty service members and family members, centered around the healing power of music. The organization develops military and veteran artists, technicians, writers and musicians at its CAMMO centers; it also develops specific music therapy programs to help past and present service members who are  suffering from neurological impairments such as traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress. It was founded in 2009 by Navy veteran Cathie Lechareas and Army veteran Victor Hurtado.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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