FORT CARSON, Colo.---Separation from Families during a deployment can be hard on both the deploying servicemembers and the Family they leave behind. It can be especially hard on young children who may not fully understand the changes taking place.

The 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division held a Children's Deployment Fair at the Fort Carson Family Readiness Center, to better prepare children and parents of the squadron for the hardships of deployment.

Dozens of Families attended the fair where they could speak to representatives of various Family assistance organizations about the many resources available to Families during a deployment. Among the organizations present were the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; Child, Youth and School Services; USO; Operation Give a Hug and the Colorado State University branch of Operation Military Kids.

Stephanie Poche, wife of Capt. Michael Poche, commander, Troop B, 4th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg., and mother of three, organized the event with the help of Family Readiness Group leaders within the squadron. The Family Readiness Group began planning for the fair late last summer and started the preparations in early January, she said.

"Personal experience from two prior deployments has shown that preparation can be difficult, especially for first timers," said Poche. "My children have helped me understand that it is better to provide information regarding deployments in a fun environment for kids."

The Children's Deployment Fair was not only a place where Families were able to gather and share experiences and ideas about preparing for a deployment while enjoying pizza, cookies and assorted beverages, but was also supported by several Family assistance groups.

"This event turned out awesome. The FRG leaders and troop points of contact worked very hard to remind Soldiers about the event," said Jacki Sadosky, FRG leader for Troop D, 4th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg. "It was great to see the FRG leaders take the time required to participate in the fair."

The event also had balloons and toys for the children to play with, while they met new friends and reconnected with old ones. The relationships built during the fair might provide comfort throughout the deployment.

"It blessed my Family to see this kind of support from the unit and the commander. The materials presented and activities conducted provided an excellent opportunity for preparation and relationship building between all of the Families," said 4th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg. Chap. (Capt.) Tony Luxem.

During the event, CYSS and DFMWR provided parents with information on how to enroll their children in school, extra-curricular classes, individual and team sports, and child care. The DFMWR/CYSS programs are free to Families of deployed Soldiers.

The United Through Reading program, sponsored by USO, provided an on-site service to record parents reading a book to their child. Parents were then given a DVD so their children could have a way to see and hear them during the deployment.

Operation Give a Hug provided specially crafted dolls dressed in the Army Combat Uniform and with a transparent sleeve over the face designed to hold a photograph of the deployed parent.

The Colorado State University branch of Operation Military Kids conducted a session specifically designed to prepare children for the emotional difficulties associated with a deployment. They also brought backpacks for school-aged children that local volunteer groups filled with school supplies and a handwritten letter from a civilian child expressing thanks to military children for their sacrifice.

Lynn Engen, wife of Lt. Col. Christopher Engen, 4th Cav. Sqdn. commander, oversaw several craft projects for Families to create. One of these was a scrapbook-style placemat decorated with Family photographs. Another craft was a coffee mug with a photograph insert.

The deploying parents engaged in an open idea sharing discussion, covering topics from child-care plans to how to stay involved in their child's life while deployed. This discussion was especially beneficial to Families preparing to experience their first deployment said Luxem.

"We, as a Family, feel better prepared for the deployment by this and all the other events that the unit has conducted to support the Soldiers and their Families," said Luxem.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16