MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. --
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Many children raised in the military community understand what it means to have their parents leave for deployment or what it feels like to leave friends and family every few years. Despite the challenges, these military children learn to grow wherever they are planted.
This year, Derby’s Park Hill Elementary has partnered with McConnell Air Force Base for an event recognizing approximately 50 children for their sacrifices and for the continuous support they have for their military family members.
“[Children] play a big role in their parent’s lives,” said Master Sgt. Michael Johns, 22nd Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor. “They make [us] happy and give [us] the motivation to go out and grind, deploy [and] do what [we] need to do to serve.”
Johns said that explaining the reasoning behind a deployment to children is a challenging and unique experience. Knowing deployments will routinely occur reminds military members to value the time they have with their children even more.
“You don’t take time for granted,” said Johns.
Events and programs are created to help increase family members resiliency during a service member’s deployments. Along with Park Hill Elementarys’ event, the Airmen and Family Readiness Center provides year-round initiatives to help military children through the difficulties of deployments and Temporary Duty Travel.
“We make hero dolls, pillowcases, t-shirts and many services that help children,” said Master Sgt. Keith Barney, noncommissioned officer in charge of 22nd A&FRC family. “We also provide workbooks, [along with] coloring books that are designed to help kids understand why their mom or dad is gone, and it helps them cope.”
Changes in any child’s life moving away from friends, schools, and family, can complicate but the A&FRC assists with taking care of the child and their needs.
“No matter how many times you deploy, if you have a spouse and kids, it’s tough,” said Barney. “Just know we can be there to support them, making sure that they have everything that they need.”