Military News

Thursday, September 03, 2015


by Airman 1st Class Zachary Cacicia
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

9/2/2015 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- For children, watching their parents go off on a deployment can be a dramatic and frightening experience.  Team Dover recently hosted an event to help make that experience a little less scary for children.

The 2015 Operation Kids/Teachers Understanding Deployment Operations (KUDOS/TUDOS) took place to give children a better understanding of what their parents go through during military deployments, while also educating teachers on what their students and their students' parents go through Aug. 26, 2015, at the Youth Center on Dover AFB, Delaware.

"This event is meant to be fun, not scary," said Staff Sgt. Nicole Hawley, Mission Support Group NCO in charge of executive support staff and primary event organizer.

The event was open to all Team Dover children and school teachers from the base schools and local school districts. More than 250 students and 100 teachers participated in the annual event.

The children and teachers started their day with mock pre-deployment briefings and processed through a deployment line where the children received school supplies. Once processing through the deployment line was complete, the children and teachers were organized by mock military training instructors, who formed them into a formation and marched them to the track and field to participate in deployment exercises. The kids tried on gas masks and chemical suits, received self-aid buddy care training, had their faces painted with war paint and went through an obstacle course. This gave them an overall fun, but educational experience.

"This year we incorporated operational security," said Hawley. "We taught them what they can and can't say on social media, helping keep their deployed parents safe."

Military members are trained repeatedly on what they can and cannot say online. Examples include not disclosing where members are deploying to and when. Children may overhear their parents talking about these and post this information onto social media, not knowing or comprehending the damage it could potentially cause.

Kerry Phillips, wife of Lt. Col Michael Phillips, 436th MSG deputy commander, attended the event with her 10-year-old daughter, Ashlynn. Being a military spouse, Kerry accepted the challenges that she and her husband go through, but their kids did not have that choice. They were born into this life.

Speaking on military deployments, Kerry said that they can be a real challenge on the children.

"We have a lot of support when it comes to this," Kerry said. "We do things like this to help them understand the concepts."

Ashlynn enjoyed her experience at KUDOS/TUDOS.

"It's fun; I enjoy coming here because my dad is in the military," said Ashlynn. "We've been trying on gear and we've been looking at Nerf guns."

More than 100 teachers from on and off base schools took part in the event. These teachers all have students in their classes with parents in the military.

"Well, I'm a civilian," said Nelle Cox, Dover AFB Middle School 7th and 8th Grade language arts teacher. "So for me, I'm learning a lot about what my students and their parents are going through and how I can better help them."

Cox went on to say that she now has a better understanding on why one of her students might perform poorly on a test or neglected homework, due to a parent's deployment.

"They have to deal with some issues that I myself have never had to experience," Cox said. "If it weren't for this event, I would have never been able to understand."

Not only did the children and teachers have fun at the event, so did the countless Airmen who volunteered their time. One of these volunteers, Airman 1st Class Jorge Rijo, 436th Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental engineer, took part in teaching self-aid buddy care to the children and said he felt it was a rewarding experience.

"I'm gaining a great opportunity to help kids," said Rijo. "Teaching them what their parents go through on a deployment helps them put their minds at ease."

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