SALEM, Ore. - The Oregon National Guard will launch a new program in May to help Oregon children of servicemembers deal with their parents' deployments.
The program called, Homefront Heroes in Oregon, (H2O), will bring military kids together to socialize and have fun. The first event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., May 16 at North Salem High School.
Online registration is available now at http://cpcbsa.org/register. Deadline for registration is May 14, 2009.
Military kids of all ages and their parents are encouraged to participate. Activities will include a rock climbing wall, sports, game lounge, storytelling, fire demos, arts and crafts, archery and display static military and emergency vehicles displays.
The program is the brainchild of Laura Conley, spouse of Sgt. Maj. Brunk Conley. She said while her family for the most part coped well with her husband's deployment, her middle son in particular struggled with the absence of his father.
"My middle son was more on his own to deal with the absence of his dad," Conley said. "Of course, we talked and worked through the issues but as a teenager, going through many changes, and not always wanting to confide in his mother, he had a rough go of it."
Conley said her middle son is now in college and doing well, but the experience has made her want to help others who may face a similar situation.
"They don't wear a sign that says, ‘my Dad is in Iraq' or ‘My Mom is in Afghanistan.' We want to get these children together and let them see and talk to others of their age who are experiencing the same issues," said Conley.
With nearly 3,000 Oregon National Guard soldiers soon to deploy to Iraq, there will be more kids than ever before in our state without moms and dads at home. Oregon has 10,000 military service members and families spread across the state.
Several organizations have joined together to make Homefront Heroes possible including the Boy Scouts of America, Salem Police and Fire Departments, Salem Public Library, Salem Public Schools, North Salem High School Army JROTC, Oregon State Police, American Red Cross and the Association of the United States Army.