A Backpack Journalist presents at the National 4H Conference

Lexie at her best!
Lexie at her best!
Kat deep in thought!

Washington, DC April 8, 2013

A Backpack Journalist Interns -Lexie and Kat spent time today at the 4H National Conference sharing their lives as a Military Youth!  The 4H National Conference brought together youth ambassadors from all over the United States.  The majority of the members of 4H  have lived in one city or town most of their lives, attended one school and have never had a parent leave or deployed!  We call them “Civilians”!  So why were the “Backpackers” there?   We were invited in to share information on the life of the military child and also to provide information on our approach to building an advocacy program using our curricula.

Lexie and Kat each have a parent who has served in the US Military and deployed.  Each have had special events that their deployed  parent has missed being so far away!  And, each have had reintegration issues when the deployed parent returns home.  As Kat shared with the group.  ‘You would think that when they come home it’s great.  But let me explain it this way.  For the year or so that they are deployed, all of us – the remaining family members, are in a boat and we somehow get a balance to keep floating along.  When the deployed parent returns and gets into our boat, well, it’s hard to manueuver”.

Linda Dennis, Program Manager, presented a short film  featuring the 9 Military Youth who attended the AUSA Family Forum in October of 2012.  Each of these 9 military youth had a story to share!  In total there were 39 moves, 19 deployments and 15 siblings involved!  The goal of sharing this film was to also allow the “voices” of these military youth to be directly shared and visually show the differences between the life of the Military Youth and  the “Civilian” 4H member.

Since PTSD awareness is one of the advocacy programs that A Backpack Journalist supports, Lexie openly shared her issues with what they are now calling – “Secondary PTSD”.  As she explained, “I am really close to my Dad.  He has PTSD and we are working through it, and in the process, I have secondary issues.”  Lexie is 17.

Over 66 youth and a several of the 4H leaders joined in throughout the sessions.  Confirmed throughout was that the 4H Ambassadors are perfect  young people – “boots on the ground”  to provide outreach and support for military youth in their communities.   The 4H groups each have monthly meetings and focused on serving their communities in a multitude of ways. Expect to see in the not to distance future, 4H Clubs adding an outreach program to support the military family and youth.  It’s all about the power of youth and the differences that they can make!  Go 4H!  Stay tuned!