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Airmen from across Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, enhanced family readiness with a Kids Understanding Deployment Operations event hosted by the Airman and Family Readiness Center on Oct. 19, 2019.
The event consisted of many activities and static displays aimed to teach children about the processes their parents go through when deploying and connect them to the mission.
“KUDOS is designed to help kids become more familiar with the whole deployment process,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Christina Belles, 19th Force Support Squadron NCO in charge of readiness. “In that sense, it helps the whole family unit become more prepared for deployments.”
Family readiness plays a crucial role in resiliency and directly affects Airmen readiness. KUDOS aims to create an environment that allows for families to have an open conversation about the effects a deployment may have.
“All the stress and emotions associated with deployments can be a barrier as far as feeling connected as a family,” Belles said. “If you’re shutting down because you can’t handle the stress then you aren’t able to express your emotions correctly. This event allows them to see that other people are going through similar things.”
The children were able to see first-hand some of the aspects of what takes place when their parents deploy.
“If you’re not providing them the information, they are just going to develop their own ideas of what they think might happen while you are deployed,” Belles said. “That can be scarier than you telling them because it makes them less likely to voice the emotions they are feeling about it.”
Events such as KUDOS allow military parents an opportunity to be transparent with their children in hopes that the children will more readily express their feelings toward deployments. .
“Having an open approach to the deployment process seem to have a positive impact on both the emotional state and how children deal with the situation overall. If you avoid it or try to hide from the reality of the circumstances, they won’t go away,” Belles said.
KUDOS also connects Airmen and their families to available resources that can help families stay resilient during, in between and after deployments
“We have an informational table there too for the parents,” Belles said. “I think the parents have a lot to gain from the event by connecting to resources that can set them up for success.”
Getting families involved in readiness opens up resources for families to stay connected even when they are thousands of miles apart and builds the resiliency needed to take on deployments.
“We are here to provide peace of mind not only to the military member, but to their family as well,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Edith Smith, 19th Force Support Squadron commander “If that military member is deployed and doesn’t know if their family back home is being taken care of, they won’t be able to focus on the mission.”
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