KUDOS: Military children experience deployment operations
By Maj. Angelic Ramirez, aSpace and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs
/ Published November 12, 2015
LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif. -- More than 150 military, DoD and contractor's children and teens experienced first-hand what their military parent's experience when deployed during the Kids Understanding Deployment Operations event, Oct. 24, at the Ft. MacArthur parade grounds in San Pedro, Calif.
The annual event is hosted by the 61st Air Base Group in partnership with Army Recruiting Command and Los Angeles Air Force Base private organizations to give participants a sense of a deployment line and bare base operations.
"Deployments are a way of life for military members as they make the selfless commitment to protect our nation, but their children also make that same selfless commitment," said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Space and Missile Systems Center commander and Air Force program executive officer for space.
Children and teens step into their parent's boots and learn to prepare to deploy overseas. The event has also inspired teens into joining the military.
Emily Haugen, 17, daughter of U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ruben Quezada, said she made the decision to join the Sea Cadet and was moved to enlist in the military after previous experiences with KUDOS.
The activities included children processing through a deployment line, listening to an commander's brief by Col. Donna Turner, 61st ABG commander, and visiting different military stations to learn hands-on military skillsets that included self-aid buddy care and self-defense techniques. An obstacle course and real world military exhibits with guided instruction and demonstration challenged the participants. The event concluded with a welcome home ceremony.
"The kids were ready to start their deployment when I briefed them; they have been eager participants all throughout the day," said Turner. "This yearly event allows children to have a deeper understanding of what happens during the deployment process, which will hopefully make the time without their mom or dad a little less difficult."
The parade field was covered with camouflaged shirts seen rock climbing, tumbling, low crawling and practicing first aid.
Maj. Gregory Degruchy, 61st Security Force Squadron commander, had his boots on the ground with two deployments. He brought his three-year old son to the event to give him a better understanding of deployments.
"It helps him understand the process, training and the build-up of what we go through before we deploy," said Degruchy. "When we are not around it gives him a general understanding of why we are gone. This is a great event; it's the first time I have seen an event like this for children and I think it is fantastic."
Melanie Beckman brought her four-year old son Matthew Beckman to KUDOS. "I enjoyed the rock wall the best!" Matthew said. His mother added, "this experience is important because it gives children the understanding of what our service members are going through and gives them a glimpse of what they do on a daily basis."
The kids don't always see the behind the scenes view of their parent's deployment nor do they understand why mom or dad are gone for a long time. This event gives them that understanding, Beckman added.