Here’s how cutting PBS funding hurts military families
(Photo: DVIDS)

Once again, PBS–the home of Lady Mary and Elmo–is fighting for federal funding. President Trump has renewed efforts to fully defund National Public Radio and PBS by removing the budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

Trump’s budget claims that donations and private funding should  offset the proposed $480 million dollar cut, reducing the federal budget for CPB to $15 million in fiscal year 2019. The CPB CEO Patricia Harrison countered that PBS, via CPB, provides needed services and programming that will be compromised should the severe cuts be approved.

“Since there is no viable substitute for federal funding that would ensure this valued service continues, the elimination of federal funding to CPB would at first devastate, and then ultimately destroy public media’s ability to provide early childhood content, life-saving emergency alerts, and public affairs programs,” Harrison explained in a statement on February 12.

While many Americans associate PBS with Sesame Street and Downton Abbey, the broadcasting organization provides services that directly support military families. With the proposed reduction in funding, all of these programs are currently in jeopardy.

Sesame Street for Military Families

Life changes fast for military families. Luckily, Elmo and friends are there to help support military children no matter what. Sesame Street for Military Families provides resources, like videos, printables, and even an app, to help parents and children prepare for major life changes in the military. Whether your child is nervous about celebrating a birthday in a new location or a parent has been injured, there is something on Sesame Street for Military Families that will help.

PBS Parents and Kids

PBS has even more resources beyond Sesame Workshop. In the PBS Parents section of the PBS website, a whole section is devoted to helping families cope with life changing military-connected injuries. This segment was produced as part of the Talk, Listen, Connect initiative with PBS and Sesame Workshop.

The CPB is a major sponsor of both Sesame Workshop and PBS. Another major sponsor is USAID, which is also on the budget chopping block.

Beyond the military family-specific programming provided by PBS and Sesame Street, there is all of the educational content on TV and online. Classrooms, including those in DoDEA schools, rely on PBS Kids to help reinforce educational concepts and skills. Kindergarten students use PBS Kids Island to build literacy skills. Older students are using classroom-ready materials to learn about science. Without funding, these programs might be significantly reduced or might disappear.

Memorial Day Concert

We can never do enough to honor the sacrifices made by our nation’s fallen heroes. Each Memorial Day, PBS organizes the National Memorial Day Concert to do just that. As one of PBS’ most highly-rated programs, the National Memorial Day Concert aims to unite the nation in supporting the families of our fallen and rallying behind veterans. This is needed exposure for military families, especially Gold Star Families, who are often hidden.

Stories of Service

When so few Americans have a connection to a military family, it is vital that our stories, triumphs, and struggles be shared widely. This creates a team mentality, like the spirit evidenced in the country’s united war efforts during World War II.

Our veterans have stories to tell and to make. Stories of Service brings veterans and the military into the homes of millions through films, documentaries, educational materials, and show.

A class might learn about World War II with material from D-Day 360. Bob Woodruff shares the latest advances in battlefield triage in Military Medicine.

Equally important, Stories of Service shares our stories on The Homefront.

PBS is a vital, valuable resource

PBS ensures equitable access to resources, like early education programming and learning tools. It provides a voice to our veterans and explains our national military history. PBS shows support for our troops, our families, and our stories. While PBS and CPB have not specified which programs or services may be cut, the almost complete federal defunding of the organization is evident in the President’s proposed 2019 budget.

By Meg Flanagan