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Freedom to 'just B' a kid: Partnership helps military, veteran kids attend special camp.

Twelve-year-old Cole struggles with some personal issues often intensified by his father's traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

But for one week each year, Cole, whose dad served in the Army and National Guard for 27 years before being medically retired in 2012, has a chance to push those struggles behind and simply be a kid by enjoying the thrills of summer at Camp Corral.

Like Cole, thousands of kids will have this opportunity as the 2019 Camp Corral season kicks off. These children, most from families with parents who are wounded, ill, injured or fallen, will spend a week enjoying the great outdoors and summer camp activities--all at no cost to their families thanks to DAV's Just B Kids scholarship program.

"When our nation sends our men and women off to war, the experience is shared by their families. The goal of this program is to recognize the sacrifices children make," said National Adjutant Marc Burgess. "Camp Corral gives our kids a great time while connecting them with others who understand what they are going through."

Golden Corral, which initially founded Camp Corral, shares DAV's commitment to veterans and families. Each year, all Golden Corral restaurants across the nation help to fundraise in support of Camp Corral and in 2018, DAV departments and chapters and the DAV Auxiliary raised more than $700,000 to help fund the scholarship program.

"I have met thousands of children who so proudly talk about their parents, the sacrifices they made, the injuries they sustained, and in some cases, the lives they gave for our safety and freedom," said Leigh Longino, CEO of Camp Corral. "These young children have seen more stress, anxiety and heartache than most. We are tremendously grateful to DAV for their continuous support. We can't take away all their challenges, but for one week, they can be happy and carefree children at camp."

Austin's father was in the Army until he injured his back. Things at home can be stressful at times, but Camp Corral provides Austin with fun and camaraderie.

"My favorite thing is canoeing," said Alex. "We team up with campers from different cabins, so it's a way to meet even more kids just like me."

Last year, Alex attended his second camp. Both of his parents are Marine veterans, and he's experienced the stress of moving and being separated from them because of deployments.

"My dad has been to more countries than he has states," said Alex. "I like being around kids from other military families, and every year I look forward to seeing my friends from last year and making new ones.

"I love everything about camp," he added. "Except the mosquitos."

Learn More Online

To learn more about Camp Corral or DAV's Just B Kids scholarship, visit justbkids.org.

By Janice M. Hagar

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Author:Hagar, Janice M.
Publication:DAV Magazine
Geographic Code:1U5DC
Date:Jul 1, 2019
Words:469
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