Robyn Mincher, DCoE Strategic Communications on January 26, 2012
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New Defense Department website, MilitaryKidsConnect.org, provides military children a safe, fun, interactive place where they can build resilience and learn coping skills to help deal with the challenges of having a deployed family member. (National Center for Telehealth & Technology video)
Meet the military families of MilitaryKidsConnect.org, a new Defense Department website developed by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2), a Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury center. Like all military families, they cope with the common challenges of a military lifestyle: deployments, transitions, worrying about mom or dad and communicating with their family. Watch how two families created unique ways to connect with each other and deployed loved ones and used their experiences to reach out to the military community.
Sweet treats help pass the time
When Xander, 7, and Avery, 6, missed their Navy dad while he was on tour in Iraq, their mom developed a tasty way to colorfully count down the days until he would be home: a jelly bean jar! For every day their dad was gone, they would get together, say a prayer, and eat their favorite jelly bean flavor (Xander’s was purple; Avery likes blue). Counting beans allowed their family to gather and talk about any concerns. Watch here.
Military family, military training
Fifteen-year-old Tyler, Xander and Avery’s older brother, was slipping in school as their dad left for his second tour in Iraq. Tyler’s dad gave him a directive: step it up and keep the family unit strong. Tyler signed up for the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) at his high school, which uses a military setting to teach life skills. Joining the group was Tyler’s “reset button,” inspiring him to connect with his family and become a leader. Watch here.
Sometimes all it takes is a little bowling to help cope! That and “guy things,” as 18-year-old Nicole recalled how she spent time with her younger brother Michael, 10, when he missed their father. They bonded and kept each other strong when their dad, an Air Force chief master sergeant, went to Iraq and Afghanistan. “I had a harder time coping with how long [his deployment] was, but … we found out ways to have a lot of fun,” Michael said. Watch here.
Nicole found her own way to cope as well—she worked with schools to send holiday care packages to deployed service members. Her efforts earned her the 2011 Air Force Military Child of the Year award.
Check out more videos of kids, tweens and teens using creative ways to communicate and stay connected to their military moms and dads. But don’t stop at the videos! Click around the new T2 website for more fun ways to connect and discover coping and resilience-building skills. Learn how to make a scrapbook, play games and create messages to share with deployed parents and other kids.
What’s your family’s special way to cope with the challenges of a separation?