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MOCK DEPLOYMENT EASES KIDS' TENSION

Military children 'deploy' in Texas

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Kids who understand deployment are less likely to fear it.

That’s the idea behind Operation Dyess Kids, a mock deployment designed to help children of service members cope with being away from mom or dad.

“This event shows that the military has begun looking more towards the family as an integral part of service,” said Richard Marshall, Adjutant, VFW Post 6873, Abilene, Texas. “We are members of the VFW because we care about assisting service members. After all, we’ve been there.”

This mock deployment began three years ago when Tech. Sgt. Paula Browning and Master Sgt. Terry Montrose at Dyess Air Force Base worked together to plan the event with help from a VFW Military Assistance Program grant. This year’s fourth annual Operation Dyess Kids was held in June and was open to children of service members from 3 to 15 years of age.

“We want to show the children of Dyess what mom and dad are doing when they deploy,” said Montrose. “We hope this will ease some of the tension that kids have about their parents leaving for months at a time.”

The kids began the day by retrieving their uniforms and dog tags at 7:30 a.m. and reporting to the Hangar Center to run through a fun version of a military processing line. Kids received fun money, fun shots, military orders and tons of goodies from the Chaplain.

Next came a tour of a C-130 and a B-1 Bomber to simulate travel to a deployed area equipped with tents, face painting, MRE tasting, fire trucks, night vision and more. After the deployment activities, the kids participated in a welcome home BBQ that featured live music and great food.

“We could not be happier with the VFW and the Abilene Community,” said Montrose. “We gathered 134 volunteers from a single e-mail because everyone knows how effective this program really is in promoting parent-child communication prior to deployment.”

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