From long deployments to managing your armed forces loans, military life can often be one giant balancing act. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find a happy medium between your family and your service to your country. Deployments are long and frequent, the number of single parent military households is growing, and sometimes it seems like you need another hand to get everything accomplished.

The Military Extension Program was developed by people who know first-hand how tough times can sometimes be, specifically for military children. A joint effort between the Department of Defense and the United State Department of Agriculture, the program aims to help develop childcare and youth mentoring programs for military kids, while providing college students with valuable internships. We salute the following two programs for their dedication to our country’s youth.

Project Y.E.S.

Project Y.E.S.

Project Y.E.S. (Youth Extension Service) is a nationwide program offering college students the chance to help serve military families and gain significant work experience in the process. Successful applicants will partner with the General H. Hugh Shelton Leadership Center and visit communities with a large number of youths affected by military deployments. Once there, interns will provide hands-on activities and support to kids. The program requires a year-long commitment and at least one weekend a month. (Note: This program is currently full for the 2013-2014 year.)

Purdue University Extension Program

The Purdue University Extension Program allows college students to spend 10 to 15 weeks working directly with military children and learning the ropes of youth centers. Purdue’s program is especially innovative, allowing for an incredibly hands-on approach. Interns will actually develop and implement their own curriculum. More than a quarter of past interns have been hired on with a military youth and child service as a direct result of their internship. More information on the application process for this program can be found here.

These two innovative programs foster a positive, mutually beneficial relationship between student interns and military children. They help to give youth an optimistic outlet and provide college age students with a way to gain work experience while giving back to those who serve this country with honor. Military life may continue to be a balancing act, but Project Y.E.S. and the Purdue Extension Program aim to make things just a bit easier for the children of our nation’s servicemen and women.

Have you participated in either of these programs? Or do you have a child how had been involved or impacted by either one? We’d love to hear your stories!