Military News

Monday, April 13, 2015

JBLM children experience the deployment process

by Master Sgt. Todd Wivell
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

4/13/2015 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- The deployment process for most Airmen on McChord Field is routine. They proceed through the deployment processing line, get their equipment issued, are verified current on all of their records and then start their journey off to their deployed location.

Statistics show that military members with families often struggle during the deployment, especially when it is the first time Mom or Dad are gone for that long.

In an effort to help JBLM families understand the deployment process and to help with that struggle, JBLM hosted the Kids Understanding Deployment Operations event, April 11 at McChord Field.

More than 200 children, ages 5-12, of Soldiers and Airmen participated in the KUDOs event in which they processed through the deployment line, got equipment and gear issued to them, boarded a bus and transported to and back from a special deployment location on McChord Field.

Five different chalks, groups of children, processed through the deployment processing line in which they received helmets, dog tags, t-shirts, special paperwork military members receive on deployments, water bottles and other equipment.

From there the children, by themselves and without their parents, boarded a military 44-passenger bus and were transported to their special deployed location, which was Hangar 9 on McChord Field.

Once off the bus, they were greeted by Col. Chuck Hodges, JBLM installation commander, who welcomed them to their deployed location and gave them a small brief on what to expect.

Immediately inside the hangar the first thing they did was to get camo paint on their faces, from there they went to different statics around the hangar which included explosive ordinance disposal, the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron, a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and the JBLM Fire Department.

While in the hangar they had a chance to watch a small K-9 dog demonstration and participate in a bag drag race as well.

To finish off their process, volunteers served them a free lunch from the Pacific Northwest United Service Organizations.

As they finished their meals and right before boarding the bus to depart their deployed location, they were met by Col. David Kumashiro, 62nd Airlift Wing commander, who thanked them for their service and for being a part of this deployment process. He presented each of them with a small doll that they could use when their Mom or Dad deployed in the future.

The buses then drove them back to the deployment processing line and the children were met by their parents who greeted them with welcome home signs as if the children were returning from a true deployed location.

"This event was a huge success and we met our goal in helping children understanding what their parents go through when they deploy," said Tech Sgt. Nalopa Hansen, KUDOs lead coordinator. "This was a great event for the first time here at JBLM and we look forward to when we can do this again."

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