Story by A1C Nicolas Erwin on 04/12/2018Whether it is from the off and on deployments taking away precious time between a parent and child or the short-lived homes a family may stay at, being a part of a military family can be difficult.
To highlight the courage and sacrifices made by military children, Ellsworth Air Force Base Airmen celebrated the "Month of the Military Child" by hosting a kids deployment line on April 7.
The experience of the deployment line helped the children gain an understanding of what their parents go through prior to leaving for a deployment.
"This gives the kids the opportunity to walk in their parents' footsteps," Borrego said. "It ties in what their parents do and how they can relate it to themselves."
It may not be as serious, but from the moment the kids leave, they walk the exact path their parents do one key difference being that during their meetings with squadron representatives, the children left with goodies instead of deployment paperwork.
"Finance gave them chocolate coins. They got t-shirts and a checklist to go through the line," Borrego said.
After processing through the line and meeting with public health, the chaplain team and other organizations, the children gathered in the sterile room.
"In the sterile room we had [explosive ordnance disposal] set up with their robots; aircrew flight equipment set up with some of their stuff; and the red man from security forces was there to get beat up," Borrego explained.
Traveling through the deployment line, children had their faces painted, played games mirroring actual training their parents go through, and tried on different items an adult deployer might wear. To some of the children, however, the best part was what was waiting for them at the Pride Hangar their parents.
As the low roar of the children approached the Pride Hangar, signs of vibrant oranges, pinks and rainbow colors were held high to welcome the "deployers" home. The youths' return was marked with triumphant screams, laughter and joy as they marched in quasi-cadence from their group leader back to their parents.
"I think a big part of [the event] is when the parents get to make the welcome home banners," Wyatt explained. "Looking back at the pictures I took of the families holding the signs, it looks just like when the kids hold the signs when their parents come back."
The deployment line was one many events being held across Ellsworth AFB in celebration of the Month of the Military Child. Additional events will be hosted by the base Child Development Center and Youth Center to bring awareness to the important role the children of service members play in the armed forces community.
"The Month of the Military Child gives us time to appreciate [military] children and everything they go through," said Brandy Wyatt, the 28th Force Support Squadron's Airman & Family Readiness Center chief. "They have to be resilient. It's really just a time to appreciate what they go through and bring awareness to those who might not understand.
"If you don't take care of the families, the mission will never get done," Wyatt added. "Our mission is to take care of those families so those Airmen can go out and do the mission."
For more information about the Month of the Military Child, call the Airman & Family Readiness Center at (605) 385-4663 or the Child Development Center at (605) 385-2488.