OAKLEAF – Military parents joined their seventh and eighth graders for Chik-fil-A chik-n-minis at the Oakleaf Junior High Veteran’s Breakfast last Thursday to spend some much-needed time together.
Veteran’s Day is celebrated on Nov. 11 and Clay County students are always given the day off, but not every student gets to hang out with their veteran or active-duty parents on that day. Oakleaf gave families the chance to connect over a free breakfast.
“We try to give Clay County School District families a sense of wellness, belonging and safety and this is just one of the many ways we try to make that happen,” CCSD Military Student Support Specialist Trish Hunter said.
Dozens gathered at the Oakleaf library to listen to special speaker, Kenneth Moreland from the NAS JAX Fleet and Family Support Center, who explained to families the many services offered by that support center. Those services include resume writing, stress and anger management, sponsorship training and family reintegration.
The Fleet and Family Support Center is made up of a number of other services like deployment support, referrals, crisis support, retirement transition assistance, financial readiness, new parent support and sexual assault prevention and response.
“We work for you,” Moreland said. “A lot of families don’t know about these services and they should because we offer a lot that military families are asking for and need.”
Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Crystal Rachal and her 14-year-old eighth grade son, Trenton Jackson, enjoyed some time alone during breakfast – something that doesn’t happen as often as either want.
“I’m happy they make things like this happen,” Rachal said. “It’s not often we get to do something like this so it’s nice to be here with him this morning.”
Rachal said the school district is great about setting up events like this to connect military families. She also said its military support services are extensive and always helpful.
“This is just a really cool thing,” Trenton said.
Hunter’s position is a part of a larger military support service in the Clay County School District funded in part by the Department of Defense Education Activity. Hunter and her team work to provide services uniquely necessary to military families. If a student’s parent is being deployed soon, Hunter can work with that student to prepare them for their parents’ departure.
“If someone needs help, we do everything we can to give them the help they need or point them in the right direction,” Hunter said. “We really are a one-stop shop for any military family in our district.
Hunter said she’s focused on making an impression in the lives of military families in a way that lets them know their school district supports them. Because November is Military Family month, Hunter has worked hard to show students from military families that they serve, too.
“They might not be flying out overseas or being deployed somewhere but they are serving too,” Hunter said. “They’re going through something most students don’t have to go through and it’s not easy. They’re fighting hard like their parents and this month we want them to know that they aren’t alone.”