Operation: Military Kids - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Operation: Military Kids

By Heather Sawaski

WAUSAU (WAOW) -- U.S. troops have been in Iraq now for more than 7 years. Over that time thousands have gone, but thousands more children and families have stayed at home, waiting for their soldier's safe return. But a program is helping kids of military families learn to cope with deployment. It's called Operation: Military Kids.

The Texidor family is all together. Matt is an Active Guard Reserve Soldier in the Wisconsin National Guard. And he's just back from his third deployment to Iraq.

"The first one, we had only one child and my wife was pregnant with the other one," he said.

Now with 2 young kids, explaining to them why daddy sometimes has to leave is tough.

"The first deployment," explained Karin Texidor. "I sat her down and went by holidays because she understands that more. He'll be gone through Christmas, he'll be gone through Easter. And this deployment, we sat down and had a little more in depth discussion on how he'll be gone through the school year and these months, and this is how we're going to deal with it."

Something that's helping them deal is Operation: Military Kids. It's a program for children who have loved ones serving overseas. 

At this weekend's convention in Wausau, kids from across the state came together to play games, and making friends. Program leaders say kids cope in different ways when a parent is deployed. Some thrust themselves into other activities for distraction. Some act out. And others clam up.

The goal of the program is to let them know, they're not alone.

"Allowing them an opportunity to connect with other youth who are experiencing similar situations," explained Assistant Program Director Laura Pettersen. "To share some of their stories, and to build some skills they can use in their everyday life."

And for the Texidor's, it's working. 7 Year old Elise now knows her dad is always with her.

"I have lots of pictures of him and I look at them," she said. "Then I sleep with them because I miss him so much. I just take them in my room."

There were also a similar program for adults at the National Guard Family Conference. Men and women just returning from overseas got to go to small breakout sessions on things like re-entering the workforce, dealing with stress, and legal rights.

Online Reporter: Heather Sawaski

Powered by Frankly