When Capt. Scott Koeman came home on leave in March from Afghanistan, his wife, Benita, and their three children had 10 days to get him caught up on what was happening on the home front.
They took an action packed vacation and created memories for him to take back with him. However, after he left again Benita realized there was so much they were doing that he was missing. With his birthday coming up she wanted to do something to keep him informed on what was going on.
"The kids talk to him on the phone, but there is only so much a kid is going to say on the phone," said Benita, the founder of Operationwearehere.com. "On top of that, we are terrible about letters and journaling."
After careful consideration, she decided upon an online, downloadable newspaper that children can print out and fill in. Called the Brat Town Bugle, A Publication of Non-Recruits in Big Boots, the newspaper gives children of all ages a way to stay connected to their deployed parent.
"I wanted to name the newspaper something that pertained to the military," she said. "The bugle sounds like the military, more so than the Reporter or the Tribune. Military children are affectionately known as brats. They aren't recruited to be military brats, but they have big boots to fill."
Launched about six weeks ago, the kids newspaper is great for any military family.
"The newspaper is not a huge amount of work for the mom, who is already taking care of everything at home," she said. "Older kids can write more, and younger children can scribble pictures for their mom or dad."
Benita has joined with Create My Gift founder Beth Allen and Troops in Touch interactive postcards for children to create illustrations for the newspaper. There are about 40 topic pages that include: a front page, arts, classifieds, entertainment, sports, weather, family, finance, home and garden, local, and national news.
"I have many topics included," Koeman said. "But every day I come up with something else. The other day one of my kids lost their tooth, so I need a health page section."
To use the newspaper, visit the Web site at www.operationwearehere.com/BratTownBugle.html. The site contains instructions on how to use the newspaper.
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