Purple Star Program Initiative Advances

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Madelyn Yepez
  • Space Base Delta 2

Military Children of service members change schools three times more frequently, on average, than their non-military peers due to geographic moves, according to a 2013 study on military children demographics.  

School liaisons, academia professionals and military officials have been working tirelessly since 2022 to give the State of Colorado education that extra little bit of support. Military and civilian officials recently testified in front of the Colorado State Senate to help advocate for HB24-1076 Purple Star School Program Bill, March 19, 2024.

“The Purple Star Program will recognize the schools that are committed to streamlining the transition process, creating different avenues for ongoing communication, increasing staff awareness of and sensitivity to the unique needs of military-connected children, and facilitating opportunities for community building.” remarked Stephanie Iverson, Buckley Space Force Base school liaison. “Purple Star schools give families reassurance that their new school is equipped to support and help mitigate the academic and social-emotional challenges military-connected students face.”

According to Department of Defense officials Colorado is home to 46,403 children of the nearly 67,000 active duty, National Guard and reserve members stationed in the state.  

During the hearing, the room boasted tall ceilings that echoed with whispered conversations. A long U-shaped table dominated the room, serving as a stage for senators who would decide the fate of the bill and the resources being etched into law.

Among those who testified were two military children impacted with their experiences of moving often, Alicia Pepper, wife to U.S. Space Force Brig. Gen. Devin R. Pepper, Deputy Commanding General, Operations, and Vice Command, Space Operations Command, and Mrs. Megan Garland-Evelo, the U.S. Air Force Academy school liaison.

“Purple Star is a state sponsored recognition, designed to emphasize the importance of assisting military children in full transition and developing programs that recognize the value of military service and civic responsibility,” remarked Pepper. “Our children serve, and if we are able to provide them an extra level of support in their schools, that would be so rewarding. Being a part of getting this bill across the finish line for our military communities in the state of Colorado is honoring.”

The HB24-1076 bill will give the option for schools to apply for the “Purple Star School Program,” which provides services and supports military military-connected students and their families to help mitigate the academic and social-emotional challenges they may face as a result of frequent moves, new schools, parental deployments, and different social circles and experiences.

One-by-one each testimony enlightened and magnified the significance of supporting the bill. Ms. Peppers’ testimony added depth to the moving narratives shared by military children, shedding light on their challenges and illustrating how the program could alleviate their grievances.

As of March 12, 2024, 39 states have received Purple Star School designation, and seven states have proposed/pending legislation according to MilitaryChild.org.

Now that the bill has passed the Senate, it will be presented to Governor Jared Polis’ desk for signature and passed into law and for schools to begin adopting the program into their school centers.

To learn more about Purple Star Schools and how your state can begin the process below. And if you have any questions, please contact a Military Student Consultant at MSC@MilitaryChild.org.