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Military Life is an Adventure for Kids

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- The military provides unique challenges for everyone including military children.
Many parents may be concerned about how military life will affect their children in the long run. A little help from base organizations, other parents and the right "spin" can make events such as deployments and relocations work out, and maybe even be exciting. 

One big concern military mothers and fathers have is with deployments. The Airmen and Family Readiness Flight offers many ways to ease the burdens put on parents left at home while their spouse is deployed. 

 The "Hearts Apart" program allows a family to place a Defense Switched Network call to a deployed military member.
 The "Car Care Because We Care" program allows a spouse to receive a free oil change.
 The "Give Parents a Break" gives eligible parents six free hours of child care through the Child Development Center. 

Spouses also help out when a fellow spouse's service member is deployed. The key spouse program is a network of spouses who act as a conduit of information as well as a support system. 

"We as key spouses answer questions and relay squadron information to the families," said 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron key spouse Danielle Turner. "We try to keep track of them to make sure things are going smoothly and to help when needed. We are also there to listen." 

The civilian community is also making an effort to help children through deployments. The popular children's television show Sesame Street has partnered with Military One Source and Wal-Mart to create the "Talk, Listen, Connect" DVD in which children can cope with their parent's absence alongside familiar character Elmo. The DVD is free and comes with a parent's guide and postcards. 

Another concern military families face is frequent moves, especially for school-age children. 

"They are leaving their friends, school, basically everything they know, but kids are resilient," said Allison Allen, Child Development Center operations clerk. "Once they get to their new base and start school and start making friends, they'll settle in." 

The "spin" that parents put on a major life event can also help by changing the whole family's outlook. 

"My dad always made a new base like an adventure," former military child Donna Strole 
said. "He would research the area and come home and say, 'You'll never guess where we're going!' Then we would be excited." 

Military leaders recognizes the challenges facing young people and has taken steps to ease transitions with programs like the teen center, youth center and the many clubs and classes available. 

"Get [your children] involved in the youth or teen centers," Ms. Allen said. "I think the military offers more programs for kids because of the transitions." 

Mrs. Strole stated that though the military life can be challenging, it can be an equally rewarding, positive experience. 

"I loved the military life," Mrs. Strole said. "It gave me an inner strength I couldn't have gotten anywhere else. It was a really interesting life and I wouldn't have traded it."

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