by Dave Smith
21st Space Wing staff writer
9/9/2015 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- A
$10,000 check was presented Sept. 3 to the R.P. Lee Youth Center for
staff training and equipment to utilize a new online gaming tool
targeting military youth deal with unique issues they face daily.
Peterson is one of only five military bases in the U.S. selected to participate in the pilot program.
The funds were awarded by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America as part of
a $1.75 million grant from United Health Foundation to fund a
Resiliency and Reintegration Initiative for Military Youth. The tool
aims to help youth who are not actively connected to a facility said
Terrill McFarland, National Vice President Military & Outreach
Services of the BGCA.
"We are very excited. It will help us do cool things and be a part of
something new," said Chett Kline, chief of Airmen and Family Services
flight at Peterson Air Force Base. "We are glad Peterson kids have an
opportunity to help build something that will help military kids around
Kevin McCartney, Senior VP, Government Relations for BGCA, said there
are about two million children who have military parents. Of those
roughly a quarter of a million have parents currently deployed; 75
thousand of those have parents who have deployed multiple times.
McCartney added that military youth move, on average, between six and
nine times, a high percentage of those are not located on any
"That's where we can help," he said. "They have special challenges and that's where we come in."
Following the pilot year another 10 locations will be selected for a
roll out of the initiative. Eventually McCartney said 30,000 are
expected to participate in the program. The initial five locations along
with Peterson AFB are Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., Cumberland
County Boys and Girls Club, N.C., Ft. Drum, N.Y., and The Boys and Girls
Clubs of San Antonio, Tx.
The initiative focuses on resources to help military youth cope with and
flourish when facing the unique pressures associated with being
military youth. McFarland said the BGCA identified the need for military
youth to have tools available to them that were not tied to a
particular facility. That led to talks in 2014 with United Health
Foundation concerning developing the tool to help kids.
In the opinion of United Healthcare Senior Medical Director for Military
and Veterans Dr. John Williams, Sr., making a grant to the BGCA for
this initiative was a no brainer. The United Health Foundation funds
non-profit, community based organizations whose charter is to improve
health and community well-being. Providing resources for military youth
in an innovative way is something the Foundation can support to provide
healthy means to benefit the military family community.
In 2014 UnitedHealth Groups total giving reached $53 million. United
Healthcare Military & Veterans, donated to more than 50 military and
veteran service organizations in 2014.
Using Internet games, bulletin boards, chat features and other online
options Williams said opportunities become available to youth who are
not part of a big city or base, but face the same challenges.
The BGCA is working with the Institute of Play to develop the online
resources. The Institute is known for creating learning experiences
rooted in the principles of game design. McFarland said the game/online
resources are slated to be ready in the first part of 2016.
"It's a game, but they will be learning skills about resiliency and
reintegration," McFarland said There is no name for the online tool at
this point, but one will be decided soon. Evaluation of the tool will be
conducted by Clemson University.