Wisconsin Operation: Military Kids thanks board member John Ashley

John Ashley (center) receives Operation Military Kids award from Steve Fernan, Department of Public Instruction (right) and Colonel Steven Dunai, Mission Support Group Commander at the 115th Fighter Wing (left)

John Ashley (center) receives Operation Military Kids award from Steve Fernan, Department of Public Instruction (right) and Colonel Steven Dunai, Mission Support Group Commander at the 115th Fighter Wing (left)

Contact:  Sue Curtis, (608)342-1308 or sue.curtis@ces.uwex.edu

Wisconsin Operation: Military Kids (OMK) honored John Ashley, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards and long-time member of the Operation: Military Kids board of directors with an award this week. John has worked with OMK for six years and was instrumental in growing the program in Wisconsin and establishing a strong partnership between OMK and Wisconsin schools.

Operation Military Kids programs offer resources to military families in collaboration with statewide partners, including branches of the military, the Department of Public Instruction, and the University of Wisconsin-Extension 4-H Youth Development. Support from people like John Ashley has helped the program grow and flourish in the last several years.

“John has consistently put the needs of students front and center through his role in supporting Wisconsin’s 425 school boards,” says Steve Fernan, from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. “John has a unique ability to help local boards prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable students their districts serve.”

That skill extends to his involvement with OMK – by highlighting the sacrifices and struggles of military families with one or more parents on active deployment or recently returned from duties overseas, he has helped Wisconsin’s military youth get the support they need and deserve.

“John is just the best team member Wisconsin Operation: Military Kids could have,” says Sue Curtis, Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development/Operation: Military Kids military liaison. “He has made a huge difference for our military families.”

John’s work has helped raise the profile of military kids and families in Wisconsin – in addition to sharing OMK accomplishments with many important decision-makers around the state, he also contributed to high-profile OMK resources and events.

“John was instrumental in urging the Department of Public Instruction to develop the Operation: Military Kids graphic novel series and companion classroom lessons that could be shared with Wisconsin schools where students were experiences the stresses of a parent’s military deployment,” Fernan says.

And in 2009, John recruited the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team to support OMK. In April 2010, the Bucks brought 1,200 military kids and families to a game to celebrate the Month of the Military Child. Military kids in attendance joined the team on the floor before the game, and a video about the experiences of military kids in Wisconsin, produced by kids at Fort McCoy, was featured on the JumboTron.

Wisconsin Operation: Military Kids is honored and grateful for John’s partnership and support over the last six years. To learn more about how to support OMK programs in Wisconsin, visit http://fyi.uwex.edu/wiomk  or check out this informational video.

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