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Aviano children go through mock deployment

Airman 1st Class Patrick McGillivray shows "deployed" children the robot they use to diffuse improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan and Iraq during a mock deployment April 20 at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The children got the chance to drive the robot and see how they use the cameras to detect bombs. Airman mcGillivray is assigned to the base's explosive ordnance disposal flight. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Justin Goodrich)

Airman 1st Class Patrick McGillivray shows "deployed" children the robot they use to diffuse improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan and Iraq during a mock deployment April 20 at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The children got the chance to drive the robot and see how they use the cameras to detect bombs. Airman McGillivray is assigned to the base's explosive ordnance disposal flight. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Justin Goodrich)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy (AFNEWS) -- Aviano Air Base children were painted in camouflage and went through a deployment line April 20 in an effort to show them what their parents go through.  

"Deployments for a child are a very depressing thing, and especially for particular ages who do not know how to deal with it," said Senior Master Sergeant John Roth, the base deployment coordinator.

Aviano officials hold a mock deployment for children of deployed members twice a year to give them a taste of what their parents' experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan might be like. It is a good way to take the mystery out of deployments and make them easier for children to deal with.

Learning more about a subject makes it easier to understand and that is the idea behind the children's deployment. The program started four years ago and quickly became a big attraction for kids.

"They are asking their parents, 'When are you going to get deployed so I can be a part of this,'" said Kris Kessler, who is in charge of the Aviano Elementary School Deployment Club. "It means so much to them. The whole community has accepted this as a real positive part of deployment."

This year, 130 children from the elementary and middle school got "deployed," and more than 60 volunteers helped with the deployment process.

"As long as I can help them to understand more about what is going on, that it will make me feel better to know that if I ever had kids, I would want them to understand too," said Airman 1st Class Heather Fisher, a volunteer helping with the mock deployment.

With programs like this, Aviano AB warfighters taking part in the war on terrorism know their children are in good hands back at home. 

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