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Hooah for the Bay State!

05.28.2013, by Susan Conolly

      Every so often something happens that makes you want to stand up and cheer, and, in this case, share. The headline of the news release from the Office of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick read, “Patrick-Murray Administration Announces New Collaboration to Support Children of Military Families”.  Having read and written many news releases in my careers as a journalist and soldier, this one jumped off the page because it tells the truth about something that is really happening!
     The news release was issued as the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) was conducting a series of four Living in the New Normal Practicum professional development trainings for early childhood educators and child care providers. Two of the trainings were funded by the state Department of Early Education and Care; two by the Office of Secretary of Defense. The goal of the trainings in Springfield, at Wheelock College, Bridgewater State University and Shrewsbury was to provide educators and service providers with the knowledge, skills and tools to help military connected children develop and sustain strength and resiliency in a climate of stress.
     So far, you may be reading this and be thinking, “Sounds like boilerplate to me.” What is remarkable here is the power and passion of the partnership which has been forged to support the children of current service-members and of veterans of post 9/11 service. The partnership begins with the leadership of Governor Patrick and Lt. Governor Timothy Murray. It is supported by legislative approval of the VALOR Act and the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. It has the active involvement of the state Department of Education and Secretary Matthew Malone; the active participation of the Department of Early Education and Care and interim Commissioner Tom Weber and Department of Veterans Services Secretary Coleman Nee. At its core is the National Guard Family and Youth Programs team led by Maureen Serrecchia and the UMASS 4H Extension Operation Military Kids effort long-led by Gretchen May.  Wheelock College and President Jackie Jenkins-Scott and Dr. Shirley Malone-Fenner, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (and an Army veteran) are hard-working plank holders in the partnership. Tufts University, the Red Sox Foundation Home Base program, Bridgewater State University and UMASS-Amherst are also pulling on the oars.
     Hopefully, I have written this well enough to keep you with me to this point. I have taken the time to list names and organizations for an important reason. They DESERVE it for the work they have done and continue to do in support of military-connected children. I have never read a blog before, let alone written one. But when the Commonwealth which is the birthplace of today’s National Guard (the men of the Massachusetts Bay Colony first mustered on the village green for the common defense in 1636) steps up and stands tall, I felt the need to speak up and let you know.
     The Military Child Education Coalition is proud to have had a long and continuing role in the landmark effort in Massachusetts. From my perspective in working to arrange and promote MCEC trainings (hundreds) across the nation for the past 7 ½ years, I can report many states are doing a lot to support military-connected children. None is doing more than Massachusetts! As Strother Martin (no relation) famously said in Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here is an opportunity to communicate.” What we have here is an opportunity to tell other states about what is happening in Massachusetts and to encourage them to create and to undertake similar efforts.
    Click here to read the news release in its entirety. 
   Click Here to checkout our upcoming 15th National Training Seminar at the Gaylord National Harbor in DC, July 8-9. It would be a great place to start. Who knows, maybe someday someone will be moved to post a blog about what you have done to support the children of our servicemen and women?

Keith Martin
BG (PA) ret.
MCEC Program Manager