Gov. Hobbs visits Luke AFB to support military children

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Katelynn Jackson
  • 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 56th Fighter Wing hosted Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs for a military roundtable and the ceremonial signing of Arizona House Bill 2246, at Luke Air Force Base, May 16th, 2024. 

Hobbs and military leadership started the day with a roundtable discussion focusing on K-12 education for military children in Arizona. Active-duty, Reserve, and National Guard leaders from across the state detailed how the different paths of military service can provide unique challenges for military families. 

“In 2008 the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission was established to identify areas where military students needed assistance,” said Col. Peter Abercrombie, 56th Mission Support Group commander. “Arizona was one of the first 11 states to sign up. There’s value in making sure that military children have a safe landing spot, and we should take care them as they move between states.” 

Last month, Hobbs signed Arizona House Bill 2246 into law. Befittingly, the bill created the Purple Star School Program in the state during the Month of the Military Child. 

This bill allows Arizona schools to apply for a Purple Star designation and identifies requirements that demonstrate the school is prepared to meet the needs of military-connected children, in particular during the difficult period of transitioning to a new school. 

“This is an exciting day for the over 50,000 military-connected children, who deserve quality support and education just like every other student,” said Hobbs. “I am proud to sign House Bill 2246, officially establishing the Purple Star School Program within the Arizona Department of Education.” 

To receive the Purple Star designation, schools must have a liaison assigned specifically for military families, establish a dedicated website with information and resources available, maintain a student-led transition program, and provide professional development for staff centered on the unique needs of military-connected students. 

“I strongly encourage every school in Arizona to challenge themselves and go the extra mile to meet the basic requirements and ensure our military children are well taken care of,” said Hobbs. “It’s so important that the brave men and women who choose to put their lives on the line for our freedom receive the care and support they deserve, and that extends to their families.” 

On average, military-connected students will have attended 8-9 schools by the time they graduate high school; three times more than their non-military connected peers. The Purple Star designation assists military parents in enrolling their children in a school with the proper resources to aid the unique challenges of military-connected children. 

While this initiative is designed to support active-duty members and their families, it also aids National Guard and Reserve units across the state. 

“While our comparable stability is one of our benefits, there are still some National Guard challenges that are met with this initiative,” Maj. Gen. Troy Daniels, Air National Guard assistant adjutant general for air. “This Includes interstate transfers or transitions from active-duty into the National Guard.” 

This initiative was spearheaded by persistent advocates including Dr. John Croteau, Dysart Schools superintendent, andArizona attorney and founder of Holon Law Partners and 56th Fighter Wing command spouse, Melissa Rueschhoff. 

“Serendipitously, today marks exactly one year from when I first heard about this program, and now Governor Katie Hobbs has signed it into law,” said Rueschhoff. “I could not be happier or prouder of our entire team that made this happen.” 

The implementation of this program ensures that military students are not only college ready, but life and career ready, while strengthening the fabric of their community.