A small child clings tightly to the waist of his father at a pre-deployment ceremony held at Abram's Field House on Fort Hood, Texas.
Photo by Army Spc. Alisha Hauk, Nov. 4, 2011
A child plays with a Give a Hug doll, sent to her by her deployed father. The doll is made to look like a soldier and has a picture of her father's face, so she can feel as though he is with her, in a way, while he's deployed. Courtesy
photo, Nov. 4, 2011
FORT HOOD, Texas (11/4/2011) - It's no secret that lengthy
deployments to a combat zone can be tough on soldiers, especially
since they are spending months away from everything familiar and
comforting to them. So then it should come as no surprise that
deployments can also have an adverse affect on the military's
smallest members, as well.
“What we have seen across the Army
since 9/11 and especially since 2003, when this country began
fighting two wars at one time, is an increase in transition
disorders in children and an increase in behavior issues with
children,” said Jodie Smith, the outreach services director at
Child, Youth and School Services on Fort Hood, Texas.
explained that military children are being diagnosed with
transitional and behavioral disorders at younger and younger ages
because they have had to face many challenges, namely the challenge
of deploying parents.
Smith and her coworkers have a strong
desire to see military children grow and develop beyond these
challenges, she said, and still become successful, strong adults.
That's why she wants military families on Fort Hood to know that
CYSS, in partnership with Army Family Covenant and School of
Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills (SKIES) Unlimited,
have many resources available to help children stay engaged while
their parents are deployed, as well as help families transition from
pre-deployment to post-deployment as smooth as possible.
“Family members who seek support from CYSS through a deployment,
once deployment orders are provided to our offices, then each child
in that household qualifies for $300 of SKIESUnlimited classes
through the length of the deployment and $100 in team sports
registrations through the length of the deployment,” Smith said.
“Each child also qualifies for 16 hours of free monthly day care.
Beyond those 16 hours of monthly day care, parents would only be
charged $2 an hour for hourly care as opposed to $4 an hour.”
Smith said the $300 of SKIESUnlimited benefits and the $100 for
sports registrations can go a long way. Children can participate in
classes through SKIESUnlimited, which is an extracurricular activity
program, for six months without any out-of-pocket expenses and $100
in sports registrations can get a child through two and a half
seasons of sports.
Smith also explained that if spouses of
deployed soldiers are employed or are full-time students they also
qualify for 20% off of full-time childcare fees.
allows family members to save a considerable amount of money during
a deployment,” Smith said. “A family of four can see a savings
upward of $3,000, if they use all of their benefits.”
However, these benefits are not only in place to help families
“It's not just a financial benefit,” said Sky Clarke,
SKIESUnlimited Director, for Fort Hood. “But it also helps
get kids involved and stay busy during that time of
This way, Smith explained, children have
something to look forward to every week while they are
dealing with the stress of having a deployed parent.
There are other services that support children and families
of deployed soldiers throughout the year, as well, explained
Regina Martinez, deployment cycle support specialist, Fort
Martinez said that CYSS partners with the
mobilization and deployment branch of Army Community
Service, which conducts a mock deployment for children twice
“The idea behind this is to have the children
go through a mock deployment to see exactly what it is mom
and dad go through when they get ready to leave,” Martinez
said. “It decreases their fears and anxieties related to
deployment when they have a little bit of knowledge of what
is going to happen.”
Camp C.O.P.E. is another outlet
provided to military families, Martinez said. Camp C.O.P.E.
is a non-profit organization that travels from place to
place and sets up day camps where children of soldiers can
go learn how to deal with deployments, reunions, changing
stations, trouble in school and other fundamental coping
skills, Martinez said.
When families move to another
military base, they do not have to leave the assistance
“CYSS provides consistent stability
from post to post,” said Clarke. “The programs are exactly
the same and, in many cases, the child development centers
are set up exactly the same.”
Since many of these
programs started on Fort Hood, Smith said she has seen
families become more and more proactive when preparing for a
deployment in order to head off problems before they even
Martinez agrees with Smith.
that it has empowered families,” Martinez said. “Because
with all of these resources and services now available,
parents have more knowledge to be able to support their kids
through difficult times.”
Smith said that while she
has no documents proving the success of these programs, she
has another, very personal way of measuring their success,
and they are, in fact, succeeding.
“What we see is a
very personal success of happy children and parents who are
coping,” Smith said. “That's all we can really ask of our
military families – to continue to look for sources of
strength and joy. I think they can find that here.”
By Army Spc. Alisha Hauk
14th Public Affairs Detachment
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