8th MPs, Operation Purple help military children deal with deployment

| June 18, 2010 | 0 Comments

Story and Photos by
Pfc. Marcus Fichtl
8th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs,  8th Theater Sustainment Command

Spc. Edward Gonzalez, 13th Military Police Detachment, 728th MP Battalion, 8th MP, signals his search dog to start the demonstration.WAIALUA — “Kids serve, too,” according to the back of the shirts worn by a special bunch of children attending Hawaii’s Hideway Camp at the YMCA’s Camp Erdman, here. 

These children are part of Operation Purple, a program developed by the National Military Family Association, which reaches out to children of deployed service members. 

The camp celebrates these children, who are the sons and daughters that hold down the home front for those who serve the nation in a time of need.

“A lot of the children may be in a school with kids who aren’t part of the military, and may feel like an outsider when their parents are gone,” said Sana Hanible, program director, Operation Purple. “Operation Purple wants to show the children that there are other children just like them.”

The two-week event culminated June 9, with showcases from all five of the military services’ best, to show children that the military and community are there to support each other.

The K9 crew from the 39th Military Police Detachment, 728th MP Battalion, 8th MP Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, was one of the biggest crowd pleasers as children dared their counselors to role play as criminals running from the police. 

The counselors obliged, and the crowd roared as the counselor was unable to outrun the dog and was taken down.

“It was terrifying but an awesome rush,” said Peter McGregor, one of the camp counselors who helped demonstrate the dog’s criminal-catching capabilities. 

During a demonstration of search dog techniques,a military police dog chases down Peter McGregor, camp counselor, in front of an awestruck crowd of children at Operation Purple.“The children love the dogs,” said Spc. Edmond Adams, a dog handler with the 39th MP Det. “But what bringing the dogs out here really accomplishes is to show the children what the military does for the community.”

“The children get to see the military version of the police officer, and that the MPs do missions just like police off post,” said Sgt. Spencer Wellman, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Special Reaction Team, 13th MP Det., 728th MP Bn., 8th MP Bde., 8th TSC.

Hanible said Operation Purple strives to make sure children know that they aren’t alone when their parents deploy, and that people in the community, like the MPs, are always available to help.

“It all boils down to family,” said Melody Dean, camp counselor. “The attention and comfort Operation Purple gives them recreates that sense of family.”

In the camp’s Hall of Honor, children may place a tribute to their parents on the Wall of Honor, which is filled with pictures or drawings of the children’s parents that keiki can share and discuss with one another. 

Operation Purple not only teaches children how to cope with their situation, but it gives kids a chance to be a kid again.

Category: Community

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