According to the Department of Defense, approximately two million children have experienced one, or both parents leave for deployment since 9/11. The extent of a parent’s mission isn’t always forthcoming. An extended absence can create an onslaught of confusion and emotions for the military child, leaving them with many unresolved questions.
Operation Kids Understanding Deployment Operations or K.U.D.O.S. is a free program designed by the Military and Family Support Centers to help children work through those questions through a simulated deployment process. K.U.D.O.S. offers age-appropriate interpretations of pre-mobilization and mission preparedness in one fun-filled day event.
Activities vary by location, and much of the success depends on the volunteer efforts of military personnel, local service workers, and community members. Fairchild Air Force Base organized a secret mission to “Neverland,” briefing threats about crocodiles and pirates. Other events include march formations, obstacle courses, and camouflaging.
The families and children are a vital part of a service member’s reintegration after deployment. The military child is already resilient. They face a different set of challenges growing up in the force. Military and Family Support Centers build these programs to open the line of communication between parent and child and strengthen these relationships.
Who is eligible?
The event is appropriate for school-age children, but some functions may offer activities for smaller children. K.U.D.O.S. is open to all branches of the military and their dependents, including:
- Military personnel and contractors
How do I register?
Signing up for K.U.D.O.S. is free through a Family Readiness Center. Call the nearest military installation or individual branch location:
- Army Community Services
- Marine and Family Programs
- Fleet and Family Support Program
- Airman and Family Readiness
If you do not live near a military base, Military OneSource is an accessible resource hub that can help you locate a center. Contact a representative at 800-342-9647.
More Information on K.U.D.O.S.
- K.U.D.O.S. is held globally at U.S. military installations.
- Events may not occur annually. It’s best to contact a Family Readiness Center for inquiries.
- The registration count is limited and determined by location.
- Some military spouses have been known to attend past events to receive more information about the deployment process. It was reported that stepping in their spouse’s shoes proved to be a valuable experience.
Resources for Children and Deployment
Military Kids Connect is an online community for ages 6 through 17. The website provides resources for health and wellness. One forum, titled “Dear Doc,” works to encourage military children to engage in conversation about their parent’s absence.
Zero to Three was founded by experts to support parents and guardians of infants and toddlers. The website works as a database of text, informational tools, and resources, with relevant content for military dependents with deployed parents.
Sesame Street for Military Families offers an interactive video series about deployment. The six-part series features the charms of Elmo as he prepares to say goodbye to his father, experiences the duration of deployment, and welcomes him home.
Cristina Van Orden is a literary writer and active military spouse. She holds an MFA from Antioch University and taught K-12 English before working in editorial. Cristina currently resides on base with her husband and children.