According to senior vice president of Service to the Armed Forces of the American Red Cross, Koby J. Langley, deployment of parents can be extremely stressful to other members of military families. Repeated deployment can especially be a burden on families. Bridget Platt, now 31, knows this all too well having experienced it first-hand.
Bridget had her first encounter with the stressful effects of deployment when she worked as a teacher. She taught young children of military families. She encountered a girl whose father had been deployed. “Before her dad was deployed, she was well behaved,” recalls Bridget. “After deployment, it was like she was never potty trained and cried out for her father during her naps. I wished that someone could help her. ”
Bridget would later experience the pain of deployment personally when her husband was deployed only 48 hours after she had given birth. “He told me he would be gone for four months,” she says. “I felt like I would collapse.”
Her husband would be deployed several times after that. Bridget made a scrapbook for her daughter as a connection to her father. Charlotte, their daughter, was able to recognize her father through this book, giving inspiration to Bridget to follow through with the idea on how to help other families in similar situations.
One book at a time
After consulting her brother, Bridget embarked on the development of personalized books that were aimed at helping military families cope with deployment.
Daddy’s Deployed and Mommy’s Deployed are illustrated books that can be personalized for families. The books tell the stories of parents who have gone on military assignment, leaving loved ones at home. The illustrations and wordings in the book are customized to suit each family’s race, branch of service, family members, hair color and even pets.
There are sections in each book featuring different issues that many families go through during deployment. “My daughter’s emotions were all over the place when my husband was deployed,” recalls Beth Kappes. “I was glad that the book didn’t gloss over these emotions. The book showed my daughter that it was OK to be feeling all those emotions. I’m really glad for this book and for Bridget creating it.”
Over 1,000 books have been personalized and delivered into the hands of military families. Over half of these were delivered through donations by various programs. “I’m happy to help families connect with deployed parents in any way I can,” says Bridget. “It’s what it means to be part of the larger military family.”