Ellsworth AFB honors military children with Kids Deployment Line

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ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -

Every April, branches of the armed forces celebrate Military Child Month, recognizing the sacrifice children are forced to make with having a parent in the military. With their 9th Annual Kids Deployment Line, Ellsworth Air Force Base helped kids understand what it is like for their parents to deploy.  

"Every four years, they're picking up. All the friends they made over the four years - moving,” said Sgt. Brian Thomas, a readiness non-commissioned officer at Ellsworth. “Some are in high school, you know, that's a big time in your life."

On average, a military child will move six to nine times during their school career. That is three times more than a non-military family.

Saturday, kids switched roles and had to hug their loved ones goodbye for the simulation.

"An event like today gives them an opportunity to actually have to sit through some briefings and talk to medical, and get the legal briefings and things like that, and kind of understand what exactly we walk through when we process and go on a deployment," said Justin Walker, a parent and Ellsworth Airman. 

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"They were away from the parents for the most part,” said Lt. Col. Jennifer Berenger. “They went through the deployment line without them. There is a little bit of that separation and an idea of what it would be like when we have the welcome home party and had all the parents with their welcome home signs. I think they really enjoyed that."

Paula Walker, a parent of two kids that participated, said the program will help her children to better comprehend what their father goes through when deployed.

"What's going on behind the scenes once we drop him off and he goes, like, 'well now what's he doing?'” said Walker.

While deployments are never easy on families, modern technology makes it easier for military children to speak with their parents overseas.

"They have obviously the Skype on the phone, and I'm able to walk around the house and actually engage with them a little bit more and communicate with them from that deployed location versus them just having to read a letter or something of that nature, maybe only getting a phone call. That face-to-face interaction definitely means a lot," said Justin.

As part of the Kids Deployment Line, children got a better look at military equipment such as flight gear, explosive protection gear, and more - all things their parents might use while they are down range.

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