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Kudos helps children understand deployments

A group of about 50 JBLM children experienced a mock deployment process to better understand what their parent(s) go through when they deploy. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Seven-year-old Isaiah Hansen looked sad.

"I get to see where Mom and Dad work," he said, as he sat next to his father, Noah Hansen.  

"But in doing this, I learn what to do and where to go, but I am a little sad."

Military children and families help to maintain the nation's security; they bear the burden of their servicemember's calling to serve.

When a military father or mother volunteers to serve the country, their children do, too.

A component of that service, especially over the past 15 years, has been and can mean a deployment.  How children handle deployments is as important as how well trained the airman, soldier, Marine or sailor is.

Put differently, a strong family only strengthens the servicemember.

Recognizing and understanding this relationship, former 62nd Airlift Wing commander Col. David Kumashiro and his McChord Field command team put together Operation KUDOS, or Kids Understanding Deployment Operations.

The purpose of the event is to increase servicemembers' children's' understanding of the deployment process and decrease the negative stressors associated with deployments.

"The KUDOS event helps families and children better understand the process and significance of deployment operations," said Col. Leonard Kosinski, the current 62nd Airlift Wing commander.

"It also helps strengthen the family bonds and understanding of the preparations to deploy and during the deployment."

For the second straight year this past Saturday, approximately 240 children ranging in ages from 4 to 12 assembled at the Logistics Readiness Squadron's (LRS) building on McChord Field.

Approximately 60 percent of those who attended are the children of airmen; the other 40 percent are the children of soldiers.

The timing could not have been better for Staff Sgt. Adam Dear, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and his wife, Phoenix.

"I will be deploying soon," he said, as he put some camouflage paint on the face of his 4-year-old son, Patrick.

"This is very nice; I think it will help the kids understand what their dad is going to do," she added.

Once they were welcomed to the deployment process by Tech. Sgt. Nalopa Hansen, 62nd Airlift Wing, the children received helmets and water bottles before moving to the face-painting and briefing area.

With their war paint on, they then processed through a mock deployment line past the desks of legal services, the chaplain corps, financial and medical services and the aerial port.

Each deploying child received his or her set of orders and dog tags.

"This is an awesome day," declared 6-year-old Owen Reddick, as he put on his dog tags.  

His father, Tech. Sgt. Matthew Reddick, smiled.

"He is seeing what we go through - how we conduct our business," he said.

With the processing complete at the LRS building, the chaperoned children then boarded a bus that took them to Hangar 9, or their "deployed location."

Once there, the deployed children received an in-brief followed by demonstrations, static displays, and a meal provided by the USO (United Service Organizations).

Once their simulated deployment ended, the children re-boarded a bus and returned to the LRS building where they were welcomed home with a redeployment celebration.

"My dad had briefed me on what to expect when he deploys, but I wanted to know what he does when he leaves," observed 12-year-old Mitchell Odupitan.

"But I'm always just hoping that he will come back."

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