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
"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
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
"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."