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 More than 200 educators visited Eielson for Operation Bug Out.
 Operation Bug Out familiarized educators with how to identify common stressors related with deployments.
 Crawford Elementary, Anderson Elementary, Ben Eielson Junior Senior High and North Pole High Schools participated.
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Operation Bug Out
Teachers attending Operation Bug Out practice transporting a medical litter Jan. 6, 2012, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The event offered educators an opportunity to experience some of the same activities that servicemembers may see prior to deploying as well as in a deployed environment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Yash Rojas/Released)
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Operation Bug Out gives educators new perspective

Posted 1/10/2012   Updated 1/11/2012 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Yash Rojas
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/10/2012 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska  -- More than 200 educators from the local community joined faculty members from Eielson Air Force Base for Operation Bug Out at the Joint Mobility Complex Jan. 6.

In the past, the event's primary focus was aimed at giving children a clearer understanding of what challenges come with their parent's deployment. This year, for the first time ever, Operation Bug Out was shared with educators as a way to familiarize them with how to identify common stressors related with deployments.

"Our goal with [teachers] is to get community resiliency to teach them what military families go through and give them tools that they can use in their classroom to help with military children," said Candi Dierenfield, Director of Alaska Operation Military Kids.

Educators from Crawford Elementary, Anderson Elementary, Ben Eielson Junior Senior High and North Pole High Schools spent half the day receiving detailed briefings of a simulated deployment and familiarizing themselves with several activity stations set up throughout the building, giving them a real sense of what servicemembers go through before deploying overseas.

According to Dierenfield, a great deal of emphasis was placed on the redeployment and reunion phase of the process, to combat the misconception that upon a servicemember's return from a deployment, life returns to normal.

"The assumption is that everything is happy during homecoming and everything is perfect and back to normal, when really that can be the most challenging time," said Dierenfield.

Teachers made their way through multiple deployment stations to speak with military members, taste meals-ready-to-eat and even practice moving medical litters while wearing chemical gear used in deployed environments. The opportunity to experience a deployment line much like an Airmen or Soldier gave teachers an inside look at what military parents must undergo when the time to deploy comes.

"What a great experience for teachers to be able to be a part of this and feel what parents feel," said Mario Gatto, Principle of Ben Eielson Junior Senior High School. "You don't even realize on the outside all the steps that have to take place for a person to be deployed."

Educators are in a unique position to directly offer their assistance to students who may be experiencing increased stress from their parent's deployment. The collaborative effort from Eielson and the local community may help further solidify and strengthen the support offered to children within the military community.

"It's all about supporting the mission in the end and making sure our troops are mission ready," said Dierenfield.

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