Kids Deployment Line encourages child resiliency
By Master Sgt. Daryl Knee, 23d Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 03, 2021
MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
The 23d Force Support Squadron Airman and Family Readiness Center's Kids Deployment Line took place at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, May 1, 2021.
The event concluded Moody’s Month of the Military Child, and gave children a chance to understand the process their parents undergo prior to real-world deployments.
“Families are an integral part of what we do in the military,” said Master Sgt. Amanda Lewis, 23d FSS AFRC readiness NCO and event coordinator. “For the active-duty member, if they don’t think their family is taken care of, they couldn’t do their job.
“The Kids Deployment Line introduces children to what their mom or dad have go through, in a super kid-friendly way, so the deployments aren’t so bad,” Lewis added about encouraging resiliency at a young age.
The event began with a mock deployment briefing from Chief Master Sgt. James Wilfong, 23d Wing command chief. He walked each child through a “bag drag,” where the children opened their kit filled with a canteen, boonie hat, coloring books, and deployment and re-deployment information handouts.
From there, the children broke into four groups for a scavenger hunt leading them to six stations spaced out around the 93d Air Ground Operations Wing headquarters.
Lewis said this is the first time they’ve done an outside setup. The typical experience is more similar to an actual personnel deployment function line that military members walk through, but the AFRC cancelled the event last year due to COVID-19 and hosted it virtually instead. This year’s smaller groups and outdoor walk allowed families to safely engage with the Airmen who manned each station to talk with the children and provide hands-on education.
For Tech. Sgt. Mike Watkins — who’s deployed four times in his children’s lives — the interactions are vital to help children connect the dots for why military members have to leave.
“Kids go through deployments all the time,” said Watkins, 23d Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment inspections section chief. “This event is awesome because it makes it a more familiar process and helps them accept what’s going on. It’s better than just saying, ‘I’m leaving for six months’ and expecting everything to be OK.”
The event ended with a free lunch and an opportunity for the parents to speak with the AFRC staff about other deployment resources available, such as journals, coloring books, hero dolls and deployment childcare.
For more information about these resources, call the AFRC at (229) 257-3333.