By Airman Grace Nichols
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The Airman and Family Readiness Center sponsored its fifth annual Kids Understanding Deployment Operations event April 9 at Little Rock Air Force Base.
KUDOS is a kid friendly way for military children to experience the deployment processes their parents go through each time they head down range. The event also helps lessen or ease anxiety that children may have during a parent’s deployment.
Approximately 275 members of Team Little Rock participated in the event with multiple squadrons setting up booths demonstrating Air Force deployment operations to military children.
“When children better understand why their parents have to deploy, it can reduce stress put on families before, during and after deployment operations,” said Wayne Ojala, an A&FRC Community Readiness consultant. “KUDOS can be a force multiplier when military members are less worried about their loved ones and more focused on their mission.”
The event displayed various duties service members perform during a deployment. Chapel, finance, medical group, legal office and A&FRC representatives ushered the children through an age appropriate version of a deployment processing checklist. Children also toured the inside of a C-130 J and operated an explosive ordnance disposal robot.
KUDOS “deployers” perfected their aim at a mock-firing range and participated in other activities like mock-camouflage face painting, some of them even painting the faces of the volunteers to help them get in the spirit of the event.
“Sometimes it’s hard to determine who has the most fun; the kids, the parents or the volunteers,” said Sharon Thompson, A&FRC chief.
“The event is important because it gives us a chance to talk about deployment to children in way that allows them to see what their parents experience and to remove the fear or lessen the stress they feel when a parent deploys,” Thompson said. “It makes it easier for both the child and the parent when there is a certain level of understanding and what deployment means.”
Volunteers also gained insight from the event.
“Both U.S. Air Force Airmen and non-commissioned officers came here to volunteer and brought their own families,” said Master Sgt. Scott Shields, KUDOS volunteer. “I think it was a great event and I’m proud of everyone who volunteered.”