Keesler Helping Children Cope With Deployment - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/26/03

Keesler Helping Children Cope With Deployment

As thousands of troops are deployed overseas for possible war with Iraq, they leave behind spouses and children dealing with the pain of separation. For some children, every day routines like going to school can be difficult, but there's a new program in Biloxi, to help kids cope.

Keesler Air Force Base has a 'Family Support Center', to take care of military families whose loved ones have been deployed. Now, employees at the center have another mission. They're visiting Biloxi schools, to reach out to those children, whose moms or dads are thousands of miles away.

Wednesday, employees from Keesler's Family Support Center, made friends with one third grade class at Jeff Davis Elementary. Almost half of the students, have parents serving in the military. In recent weeks, some of them have had to say good-bye to their moms or dads.

"They usually come to me with a lot of sadness, and they are also feeling very scared, because their world has changed," third grade teacher Sarah Lammons said.

Nine-year-old Kendick Carr's world turned upside down, when his dad was recently deployed.  

"It's real sad because he helps with my homework alot, and he helps with my feelings, because I'm really sensitive," Carr said.

"Sometimes you might not have things available to write on, to send off to your parent, these are little writing kits," family support center Sgt. John Lowe said as he passed out the kits.

The Keesler employees know it isn't easy for the youngsters to be apart from their loved ones. So, they're trying to interact with the children, to help ease those anxieties and fears.

"Are they going into battle? We don't know, it's hard to say," Lowe said. "We feel as though by interacting at schools, we can prevent some of the stress or frustration on the kids' behalf, we know they're affected, whether it's emotional or psychological."

Third grade student, Melissa Korkuc appreciates the support. Her mom is also in the military.

"When she gets deployed, it really hurts my feelings because I really miss her when she's deployed." Korkuc said.

Keesler's Family Support Center offers free e-mails and video-phones, so military children can communicate with their deployed parents.

You can access the website for kids, that offers games and information about deployment, by clicking here.

by Trang Pham-Bui

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