The Pentagon website aimed at helping military kids has a fresh new look. It's now mobile friendly and, officials hope, will be used by the military community to help families navigate the sticky emotional parts of military life.
Military Kids Connect, operated by the Defense Health Agency, first launched in 2012. But officials had trouble keeping up with changing technology, said Kelly Blasko, a psychologist who leads the program. Between technology challenges and limited information on just what military kids need, there was plenty of room for improvement.
"It was a time when the amount of research and understanding of the issues that military kids were dealing with ... was very different than what we know now," Blasko told Military.com.
Now the website, updated to coincide with the annual April celebration of Month of the Military Child, has been redesigned to improve accessibility and better meet military kids' needs.
Among the improvements, Blasko said, is a reinforced focus on helping military kids process feelings around difficult subjects, such as a parent's injury, and guidance on how to bring their problems to a safe adult.
"We kept saying, 'Talk to a trusted adult,' and we assumed they knew how to do that," she said. "But it isn't that easy. Whatever we can do to keep them safe and pointed in the right direction is really, really important to me, and I think to a lot of parents and people who support our kids."
The site's kid-friendly layout is easy to navigate and includes point-by-point guidance for dealing with the military life challenges a child might face.
Blasko said she advises parents and other adults working with military kids to scroll through the website and browse the resources. Then, when difficult situations arise, they can point their kids in the right direction, she said.
"Particularly if there's any signs of distress or adjustment issues around a military thing, [they] could really recommend it at that time, and even could recommend a particular starting point," Blasko said. "That would offer the help to them to not only look at that, but perhaps other sections."