For military children across the country, having a parent leave for a deployment can be tough. Saturday, children on Tyndall Air Force Base had the chance to go through their own deployments to see just want their parents experience.
Take one step into the youth center on Tyndall A.F.B and you hear military commands ringing out with children ranging in age from 6 to 18 staring straight forward. Despite the serious faces participants on the base Saturday morning were having a lot of fun with their mock deployment.
"This is really, really fun, going through all of this is," said Valerie Messer, a 10-year-old first time participant. "I can't explain it because it's so fun it's hard to explain."
And a big part of that fun was learning.
"They're gonna go through the process that their parents would be going through in the event that they deploy and we're just gonna give them an overview of what the parents see," said Rebecca Mroczkowski with the Airman & Family Readiness Center.
Saturday's program allowed the children to take part in the entire experience for themselves. They each went through a processing line where they received their own dog tags and bags and got their papers stamped.
After a small dose of basic training, they prepared for their own deployment.
"It helps them cope with - alright this is what mom and dad went through with the deployment line, it gives them insight and helps them cope with the deployment better," said Senior Master Sergeant Theresa Moran.
For children like Valerie, the experience is one she's happy to take part in.
When asked what her favorite part of the activities would be, she barely hesitated before saying, "going on the bus and doing these activities with everybody, seeing what it's like doing exactly pretty much what they did," she said with a smile on her face.
The program saw more than 80 children from local military families.