STATEHOUSE – State Representative and Army veteran Douglas Gutwein (R-Francesville) was invited to speak at a summer camp event hosted by Indiana Operation: Military Kids. Approximately 60 campers, whose parents, guardians or siblings were deployed, wounded or killed in action, gathered at the Dunes Learning Center to listen to Rep. Gutwein speak.
“As a Vietnam veteran, I understand that serving in the military requires enormous sacrifice, not just for the individuals who signed on the dotted-line but for their families, loved ones and especially their children,” said Rep. Gutwein. “It can be challenging for military kids to understand how to handle the stresses involved with a deployment, and I was honored to address these amazing individuals, letting them know that they are not alone in the challenges they face and that resources are available if they ever need help or someone to talk to.”
Indiana Operation: Military Kids is focused on supporting military youth impacted by a loved one’s deployment. The program is a joint initiative between U.S. Army Child and Youth and School Services and primarily funded by the Army National Guard and Reserves, partnering with Purdue Extension. By organizing community activities like the summer camp or making resources available for the kids, the program aims to provide them with assistance, enhancing their well-being and sense of community when facing obstacles.
Partnering with the organization, the American Legion and the Dunes Learning Center hosted and raised funds to ensure the summer camp continued amidst federal defense spending cuts. Staying in cabins, the campers participated in various activities like swimming in Lake Michigan, nature hikes and sitting around nightly campfires. Through the various activities, campers were educated about nature while learning various coping mechanisms, resiliency and communication skills through small group discussions.
“I could tell that the kids were having fun, and the friendships made and lessons learned will last them a lifetime,” said Rep. Gutwein. “Military families, sacrifice a great deal for our country, so it is important that we continue to provide them with the tools they need to overcome any obstacle while having fun and building relationships in the process.”
Visit www.operationmilitarykids.org for more information about the program or visit www.duneslearningcenter.org to make a pledge to the summer camp.