MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- It is Friday afternoon and you're heading home with reservations to your favorite restaurant. Pulling into your driveway, your phone rings. After a 60-second conversation consisting of a reply of: "Okay," you hang up. During that minute, not only your plans for the evening, but for the next eight months have come to a screeching halt.
Deployments are nothing new to Airmen, but are still capable of causing stress to the Airmen and their families. Although programs are available to help the member deploying, from the Airman and Family Readiness Center, their first sergeant or support networks throughout your unit, how do we help our families and the ones we leave behind?
Recently at Maxwell Air Force Base and Gunter Annex, the 42nd Air Base Wing realized there was a need for family members to understand what a service member experiences prior to deploying. The result is an experience designed to help children, spouses and teachers.
Saturday, during the inaugural Kids, Spouses and Teachers Understanding Deployment Operations, or KUDOS, SUDOS and TUDOS event, families and teachers were able to go through a mock deployment line and pre-deployment mission briefings. Participants also had the opportunity to wear bullet-proof armor, receive simulated vaccinations, review their medical and dental records and speak to the base chaplain.
One of the pre-deployment briefings was provided by Maj. Allan Rich, 42nd Logistics Readiness Squadron commander. Rich provided insight to the attendees about their deployment, which location they were deploying to, what their accommodations would be like and how long they would be deployed.
"The emphasis of KUDOS, SUDOS and TUDOS is to nurture understanding of the varied possible experiences of spouses and children left behind, and to connect them with their resources," said La Tonya Lewis, 42nd ABW community support coordinator. "Teachers are included so they will have an understanding of the deployment and reintegration cycle and how it affects their students."
Lewis said this program is designed to connect spouses, children and teachers. She said it also serves as a reminder when an active-duty family member deploys or relocates their family, the ordinary stress of life can become extraordinary.
Technical Sgt. Talia Lockhart, Non-Commissioned Officer Academy instructor and military spouse, attended the event with her children, Elijah and Eniyah.
"As a military member, I know and understand the deployment process," she said. "However, many families and teachers do not, and this event allowed them to see what that individual goes through prior to deploying. It is also helpful to me as a military spouse to see the other side of the spectrum."
Since deployments can come at any time, programs like KUDOS, SUDOS and TUDOS provide a better understanding for loved ones left behind. Knowing a little about what happens during the deployment process makes living without their Airman a little less difficult.
For more information about KUDOS SUDOS and TUDOS, call La Tonya Lewis at 953-9822.