'Sentinel' celebrates military 'brats'
April 29, 2010
<b> FORT STEWART, Ga. </b>-More than 50 Families and 75 children challenged the rain and wet grass to make for a successful and first Battalion Brat Award Ceremony on the grounds of 4-3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion where each child was personally presented a Sentinel Brat Award by Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Milton, April 24.
"The Battalion Brat Award Ceremony was a collaborative idea that came from one of our FRG Small Group Meetings," said Christi Kisko, Family Readiness Support Administrator for 4-3 BSTB. "We are always thanking our volunteers with certificates and praise, and our Soldiers are given medals and awards. Our children somehow seem to slip through the cracks though they play a vital role in our Army Community. With April being the Month of the Military Child, we wanted to let our children know how important they were to us."
The Sentinel Brat Award cited each child for exceptional meritorious service to the United States Army as a Sentinel Brat.
"The laughter, love, joy, and support that you have provided to your Soldier is immeasurable. Your performance reflects great credit upon yourself, your Soldier, the Sentinel Battalion, the Vanguard Brigade, the 3rd Infantry Division and the United States Army. We hereby proclaim you an official 'Sentinel Brat'," the certificate read.
"Our children are important to us," Col. Milton said. "As we continue to support and appreciate the sacrifices of our Soldiers, we should remember that the Family of each Soldier is also affected by deployments, particularly children. They sacrifice as well while their mom or dad is away.
"The 4-3 (BSTB) has opted to start this recognition before the Soldiers actually deploy, by actually presenting certificates to all the children to not only honor them but to show appreciation for all they do. This Brat Award event also provides a venue by which Families can come out and meet other Families to strengthen the already strong support our Families share here at Fort Stewart. This is right; this is the way it's done."
"If it ain't raining you ain't training," said Capt. Rosemary Zinkon, 4-3 BSTB rear detachment commander, as she compared the event to a training exercise - an exercise which prepared spouses and children for the upcoming deployment scheduled later this summer.
"This is Month of the Military Child, and we want to recognize all of our children, especially before deployment and while the Soldiers are at NTC to let them know how much we love them and that we appreciate them and everything they do for us," Capt. Zinkon said. "The children support the Soldiers while they are overseas - they make cards for Soldiers, send videos and support with love."
Captain Zinkon said 4-3 BSTB intends to have more Family events while the Soldiers are deployed. She said every child needs to know that he or she is important and he or she has a role to play while mommy or daddy is away.
"When the Soldiers are home, we don't have as many of this type of event because the Soldiers are here, and they get to spend time with their Families. But, right now, it's important to get the children and the spouses together so that we can build a cohesive team - and prepare for deployment," Capt. Zinkon said. "A year is a long time for a child."
The Families attending the Brat Award event were all enjoying and applauding the attention the children were receiving as each child was urged on to the podium to shyly receive his or her Brat Award.
"They go through a lot and actually give up their parents for years at a time so they deserve something too," said Spc. Larissa Petlin, a headquarters and headquarters company Soldier. "This event acknowledges the kids where usually they are put on the back burner - more or less."
Eleecia Hood, wife of Command Sgt. Maj Stanley D. Hood, battalion command sergeant major, was ecstatic about the event.
"This is the time to get together, socializing, communicating - and it's a big part of getting ready to deploy," she said. "We look forward to meeting everybody and having a great time with the kids."
Hood said the Brat Award event is only the beginning. The unit is planning get-togethers for fellowship and even has a book club for the Families, according to Hood.
Mary Grubbs, an HHC spouse, said she was glad they had the event, rain or shine.
"It's good to recognize the kids. We kind of forget that the adults opted to come in (the military), but the kids didn't have a choice. It's good the unit remembers how much the kids go through."
Luz Dixon, an aunt to one of the recipients declared the event "makes the Families feel at home... because the whole battalion is taking them in."