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Deployed Airmen can still hug their families goodnight

Master Sgt. Susan Smith, 22nd Mission Support Squadron, holds up a finished, etched pillow case Aug 29.  Operation Rest is a program at the McConnell Airmen and Family Readiness Center allowing family members of deployed Airmen to either bring in photos or send photos through e-mail to the AFRC so the images can be pressed onto a pillowcase or T-shirt along with a personal message. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Laura Suttles)

Master Sgt. Susan Smith, 22nd Mission Support Squadron, holds up a finished, etched pillow case Aug 29. Operation Rest is a program at the McConnell Airmen and Family Readiness Center allowing family members of deployed Airmen to either bring in photos or send photos through e-mail to the AFRC so the images can be pressed onto a pillowcase or T-shirt along with a personal message. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Laura Suttles)

Jackie Parmenter, spouse of Tech. Sgt. Jason Parmenter, 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, currently deployed, speaks with her husband an internet link Aug. 29 at the Airmen and Family Readiness Center.  Sergeant Parmenter says he recently received a pillow case with a picture of his sons, Cory and Todd, and their pictures put a smile on his face. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Laura Suttles)

Jackie Parmenter, spouse of Tech. Sgt. Jason Parmenter, 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, currently deployed, speaks with her husband an internet link Aug. 29 at the Airmen and Family Readiness Center. Sergeant Parmenter says he recently received a pillow case with a picture of his sons, Cory and Todd, and their pictures put a smile on his face. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Laura Suttles)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- It can be comforting and soothing for military members to kiss and hug their spouses and children good night and see their smiling faces before bedtime. What happens when people are deployed and are 3,000 miles away? What can people do for comfort?

If people are at McConnell Air Force Base, the answer lies within the Airman and Family Readiness Center. Operation Rest is a program allowing people to still rest easy at night with pictures of deployed members loved ones etched onto pillowcases. The huggable relic may also keep military children closer to their deployed parents by capturing favorite memories.

"It's also a good thing for the children of deployed members to have so they can see mommy or daddy no matter where they are," said Master Sgt. Susan Smith, 22nd Mission Support Squadron and head of the AFRC project.

The program allows family members to either bring photos or send photos through e-mail to the AFRC so the images can be pressed onto a pillowcase or T-shirt along with a personal message. The keepsake can be given to a loved one who will deploy or has come back from a previous deployment. It can also be given to family members of deployed Airmen.

"This is a nice visual reminder for families who have their loved ones deployed," said Sergeant Smith.

Only one pillowcase or T-shirt can be produced per family member. Financial funding, T-shirts and pillowcases are donated from various organizations.

Since last October, when the program started, Operation Rest produced more than 452 pillowcases. This program is also offered to Kansas Air National Guard, Marine and Navy Reserve and Army National Guard at McConnell.

"My husband likes "them" (pillowcases), he sleeps with them every night," said Jackie Parmenter, spouse of Tech. Sgt. Jason Parmenter, 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. Sergeant Parmenter is currently deployed and is not expected to return until late fall.

"I recently received a pillow case with a picture of my two boys, Cory and Todd, and it brought a smile to my face," said Sergeant Permenter in an e-mail to his family. "The pillow case is a really great idea. I know it is not like being at home and saying good night to them, but at least I get to see them every night before I go to bed," he said.

People can pick up their etched keepsakes within two business days. For more information, call 759-4063 or visit the AFRC from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.