Kids at Ellsworth AFB experience simulated deployment

In honor of April, the month of the military child

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE S.D. – For kids in families stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base, having a parent deploy to another part of the world can be a complicated time.

April is the Month of the Military Child which celebrates the kids of airmen and women and what they go through. This weekend, staff on base held their annual Kids Deployment Line where kids get the chance to see the deployment process firsthand.

For some in the Air Force, deployment could come at any time. These air men and women are often times leaving their families for months. And for the children of those deployed, it can be a complicated time filled with uncertainty. That’s why Ellsworth holds its annual Kids Deployment Line.

The program allows kids to walk in their parents footsteps, and aims to relieve some of the anxiety of seeing them go.

“When they get ready for deployment, they don’t know what they go through,” said Jacob Garrett with Ellsworth Air Force Base’s Child and Youth Programs. “This lets them walk through some of the same things they have to go through.”

The Kids Deployment Line shows kids how their parents prepare. 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron Commander Joe Crespo has deployed twice and had two kids in the program.

“It doesn’t just happen,” Crespo said. “There’s a lot of readiness and preparation involved, and giving them a peek behind the curtain I think is very cool and is important to give them context to what mommy and daddy go through.”

It all starts when the kids go through mock medical exams and weapons training. They then take a bus to the deployment center on base and receive a mission briefing in the same seats their parents would. After games and prizes, they return from their half-hour deployment to cheers, hugs and fanfare.

Commander Crespo also says events like these can help build strength resiliency in military families, especially in the hardest of times.

“Kids are resilient. Their theme is the dandelion flower for a reason. They spread across like the wind and seeing that and being part of a military family, at least for my kids, it made them very tough.”

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News