"Operation Hero" Helps Military Children Understand Deployment - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/22/03

"Operation Hero" Helps Military Children Understand Deployment

Many of the military men and women off serving our nation also have others roles as mothers and fathers. Keesler Air Force Base has developed a program to try to help their children better understand why their parents are way. It's called "Operation Hero".

Three months after their dad was deployed to the Middle East.. the McCarthy brothers tried his gear on for size.

Nine year old Cameron McCarthy said "It feels really funny and it's kind of heavy. You take the mask off. It hurts."

Phone calls and letters may the be the only connection these children have to parents stationed half a world away. Keesler Officials say Operation Hero uses the picture I'd's, dog tags and equipment similar to what mom and dad are using to give children a better idea of what their parents are experiencing.

"Sometimes it breaks it down to playing on the playground. I have to get down to that level and explain that the nation needs there mom or dad to do the job that they're trained to do," said Technical Sergeant James Gray.

Tamara Carr likes the hands on approach to explaining war to her four children. She designed a board representing the Turkish base where her husband Brian is stationed.

"Visual things are sometimes easier for kids to understand where he is and what he's doing and they can see that yes indeed daddy does have a toilet and he does have a bed and he does have all the things that he needs to be okay," said Carr.

Her son Dustin likes playing "Where's Daddy" because "we can move daddy around and maybe we can use our imaginations and like he's on an aircraft carrier."

More than eighty children came out for "Operation Hero". Keesler Officials say the program is not new and started long before the recent conflict.

by Danielle Thomas

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