This guest blog posts comes from the blog This Fabulous Army Life. The mock deployment described here was hosted by Fort Hood, but could be modified as an FRG event for kids as well. Let us know what you think ... and if you decide to plan one of your own!

Fort Hood hosts a "Mock Deployment" for children, an event designed to educate our kids on a little of what our Soldiers encounter when they prepare to deploy.  I was interested right away and signed up my two boys -- ages ten and seven -- for the event.  The kids were encouraged to dress in their best Army or camoflauge summer clothes for the event.  Our boys immediately took out their battalion t-shirts and camo shorts and were ready for the day.  After a flurry of sunscreen and final preparation, we were on our way.

Upon arrival, the boys checked in at the registration desk for their deployment packet ... a backpack full of fun stuff: camo binoculars ("bi-nos" for our experienced kids), dog tags, water bottle, and lots of great booklets and information for them.  They were given new identities for the day:  PFC Cook, N. and PFC Cook, J.  After being assigned to "Echo Platoon," we headed outside so the boys could fall into their formation.  A military roll-call ensued followed by a few quick lessons on right-face, left-face, about-face, forward march, attention, and at ease.

As the new troops stood in formation behind their platoon guidon, the Army Community Service (ACS) coordinators welcomed the troops and the III Corps Command Sergeant Major gave a brief overview of the day then taught the kids how to shout out a proper "HOOAH."  The formations then all marched into our first briefing of the day.  The introduction brief was all about what it's really like during deployment, complete with a slide show.  From there, the kids moved through several fun stations.

A first step in the process was getting throug the Medical station.  The kids all received 'shots' ("Thank goodness THOSE were fake," says one of the boys.) from medical personnel then moved through dental (receiving new toothbrushes and toothpaste) then taking an eye exam where their vision was deemed fit to deploy.  The next few stations were definitely among the most fun of the day.  First, all participants were face painted in camo then allowed to try on a variety of real Army gear with Soldiers standing by to assist.  The kids could try on:  kevlars, bullet-proof vests, protective masks, gloves, boots, and more.

Just like in a real preparation for deployment, the kids participated in several briefings throughout the day.  They heard the In-Country brief where they learned about the cultures of Iraq and Afghanistan, some "dos" and "don'ts" of dealing with the people of those countries, and saw lots of photos of what the area would look like when they got there.  The participants also talked about all the things they needed to do before they left the country, including age-appropriate descriptions of Powers of Attorney, financial requirements, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).  They even participated in the Family Readiness Group (FRG) brief where they talked about things like "What is an FRG anyway?"  Next, the troops moved outside for a mini-road march complete with cadences then a training obstacle course.  The course contained tires to step through, a water grenade qualification range, low crawls, and a zig-zag speed course.  My boys had a blast doing this!

Water Grenade Qualification Range

Low Crawl

The Final Run

After the obstacle course, the military police from Fort Hood demonstrated their amazing working canines.  We watched some of their training techniques and enjoyed the dogs showing off their skills.  Once that was complete, each participant was given a Meal Ready to Eat (MRE, certificate of completion, and said farewell in a final formation.  After the event was over, we went back to the static displays of various Army vehicles and equipment.  Our unit had some Soldiers there showing participants through a Howitzer.  It was a huge hit with the kids and my own boys spent a good amount of time crawling in and out and asking a million questions.  All of the participating Soldiers were fabulouse ... informative, friendly, and eager to show off their prize equipment.  It was a great time.

Here, the boys spend lots of time quizzing Soldiers about the Howitzer.

Later that evening, my Soldier demonstrated the finer points of preparing MREs to the boys.  They opened up their packages and were eager to eat "just like Daddy does in the field."  We brought home Chicken & Dumplings and Spaghetti with Meat Sauce.  The boys were very good sports, trying all of the different items.  My favorite quotes of the night?  "Daddy, is this a chicken or a dumpling?" and, in response to me telling them that Daddy had eaten lots of MREs throughout his years in the Army, "Poor Daddy."

~ Traci Cook


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