An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

HomeNewsArticle Display

Celebrating the young at Salute to Youth

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – A circus themed welcome sign is set up for the 4th annual Salute to Youth event here Thursday, August 15, 2013. Salute to Youth was both an educational and family friendly event. It hosted the Exceptional Family Member Program, local schools, Backpack Brigade, food, games and prizes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – A circus themed welcome sign is set up for the 4th annual Salute to Youth event here Thursday, August 15, 2013. Salute to Youth was both an educational and family friendly event. It hosted the Exceptional Family Member Program, local schools, Backpack Brigade, food, games and prizes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Birdie, a kids music band, perform during the 4th annual Salute to Youth event here Thursday, August 15, 2013. Salute to Youth was both an educational and family friendly event. It hosted the Exceptional Family Member Program, local schools, Backpack Brigade, food, games and prizes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Birdie, a kids music band, perform during the 4th annual Salute to Youth event here Thursday, August 15, 2013. Salute to Youth was both an educational and family friendly event. It hosted the Exceptional Family Member Program, local schools, Backpack Brigade, food, games and prizes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Linda Crowder, Airmen and Family Readiness acting director, gives out backpacks as part Backpack Brigade during Salute to Youth event here Thursday, August 15, 2013. Salute to Youth was both an educational and family friendly event. It hosted the Exceptional Family Member Program, local schools, Backpack Brigade, food, games and prizes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Linda Crowder, Airmen and Family Readiness acting director, gives out backpacks as part Backpack Brigade during Salute to Youth event here Thursday, August 15, 2013. Salute to Youth was both an educational and family friendly event. It hosted the Exceptional Family Member Program, local schools, Backpack Brigade, food, games and prizes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Ryan Massaro pets a 13 year-old African Python from Charles Paddock Zoo during the 4th annual Salute to Youth event here Thursday, August 15, 2013. Salute to Youth was both an educational and family friendly event. It hosted the Exceptional Family Member Program, local schools, Backpack Brigade, food, games and prizes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Ryan Massaro pets a 13 year-old African Python from Charles Paddock Zoo during the 4th annual Salute to Youth event here Thursday, August 15, 2013. Salute to Youth was both an educational and family friendly event. It hosted the Exceptional Family Member Program, local schools, Backpack Brigade, food, games and prizes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Scout French hugs Teacup, a miniature horse from Santa Ynez Valley therapeutic riding program, during the 4th annual Salute to Youth event here Thursday, August 15, 2013. Salute to Youth was both an educational and family friendly event. It hosted the Exceptional Family Member Program, local schools, Backpack Brigade, food, games and prizes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Scout French hugs Teacup, a miniature horse from Santa Ynez Valley therapeutic riding program, during the 4th annual Salute to Youth event here Thursday, August 15, 2013. Salute to Youth was both an educational and family friendly event. It hosted the Exceptional Family Member Program, local schools, Backpack Brigade, food, games and prizes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Kela Loeak climbs up a rock climbing wall during the 4th annual Salute to Youth event here Thursday, August 15, 2013. Salute to Youth was both an educational and family friendly event. It hosted the Exceptional Family Member Program, local schools, Backpack Brigade, food, games and prizes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Kela Loeak climbs up a rock climbing wall during the 4th annual Salute to Youth event here Thursday, August 15, 2013. Salute to Youth was both an educational and family friendly event. It hosted the Exceptional Family Member Program, local schools, Backpack Brigade, food, games and prizes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Gabriel Peraza shows off his face painting during the 4th annual Salute to Youth event here Thursday, August 15, 2013. Salute to Youth was both an educational and family friendly event. It hosted the Exceptional Family Member Program, local schools, Backpack Brigade, food, games and prizes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Gabriel Peraza shows off his face painting during the 4th annual Salute to Youth event here Thursday, August 15, 2013. Salute to Youth was both an educational and family friendly event. It hosted the Exceptional Family Member Program, local schools, Backpack Brigade, food, games and prizes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Yvonne Morales)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Wide open spaces packed with children and parents enjoyed the circus theme of the fourth annual Salute to Youth event with lots of free food, prizes, games, live music and a children's clown costume contest at the base's Youth Center.

Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, marked the anniversary of the Salute to Youth event started by the Airman and Family Readiness Centers' Exceptional Family Member Program.

Originally, Salute to Youth was founded to inform families with special needs children on programs available to them, but has now expanded to offer many more informative programs that are available to all Team V family members.

Unlike this year's event, it was a rocky start for the Salute to Youth program.

"We've come a long way from our first event back in 2010 where 28 people showed up!" said Ray Vasquez, A&FR consultant. "Last year we had around 600 [children and parents] attend Salute to Youth and this year we expected around the same."

With the support of the Force Support Squadron's family flight the program has grown in leaps and bounds and has become an anticipated event for children and their families every August.

"I think it's a nice way to bring the community together," said Senior Airman Luiz Cavalcante, 30th Comptroller Squadron accounting liaison. "Great way to meet other military families when you're new to the base."

Special Olympics, Home Depot, Military Child Education, Charles Paddock Zoo, and Santa Ynez Valley therapeutic riding program for autistic children, were among the many local programs providing information and giving back to the military community.

"The main goal of the Salute to Youth event is to connect military families with community resources including youth center camps, sports, and after school activities," said Vasquez.

Over 200 backpacks with school supplies were given out today thanks to Backpack Brigade by Operation Homefront.

This growing event brought out more than 60 military, spouse, and civilian volunteers, local vendors, k-12 school representatives, and local programs to inform our active military that their community has their back.

With a big smile on her face as the event came to a close, A&FRC consultant Rachel Alvares said, "Fabulous event with community partners putting their best foot forward in making this happen!"