The Operation Hug-A-Hero family extends their heartfelt prayers and sympathy to the families of the 30 U.S. Special Operations Troops killed over the weekend in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. These fallen heroes will always be cherished by their loved ones and their bravery and service to their country will never be forgotten by a grateful nation.
Operation Hug-A-Hero would like to offer each child affected their own custom-made Hug-A-Hero Doll of their fallen hero, their daddies. We believe our special dolls can provide a tangible, comforting connection for these children in the coming transitional months.
If you know a child directly affected by this recent tragedy who might benefit from a Hug-a-Hero doll, please contact Operation Hug-A-Hero at (888) HUG-0329, ext. 101 (484-0329).
If you would like to help Operation Hug-A-Hero in providing a little comfort to the children of our fallen heroes, please go to www.operationhugahero.org to make your tax-deductible donation.
We have set up Special Monitoring of our phone lines for this so that we can promptly respond to assist the Children (our little Heroes) in their time of need.
Operation Hug-A-Hero announces its FIRST Corporate Partnership with Hilton HHonors Giving Back Program! Loyalty program members donate Hilton HHonors points for children of deployed or Fallen American heroes to receive their own custom made Hug-A-Hero doll. We are honored to welcome Hilton HHonors Giving Back Program to Our Family. You can learn about us on the Hilton HHonors Giving Back program here.
To read more about this partnership, see our Press Release on PRUnderground.
We Heart the Troops Memorial Day Celebration & Benefit in tribute to the thousands of service members who have served. This event will take place on May 13th starting at 8pm at the Newport Beachside Resort in Miami.
We appreciate the We Heart the Troops foundation for choosing Operation Hug-A-Hero as one of their beneficiaries to this event. To register for this event in advance, please go to EventBrite.
Schools “Dress Down” for OPERATION Hug-A-Hero
Join us in celebrating the Month of the Military Child by “Dressing Down” at your school! Don’t have a uniform dress code at your school? Join us in a “Pennies for Heroes” fund drive instead!
For our “Dress Down” fundraiser, you determine the amount of the donation that earns your students a dress down day, and we will provide a customized promotional flyer template for you to promote your tribute to military children.
For our “Pennies for Heroes” fundraiser, put a collection receptacle in your school office, cafeteria, gymnasium during sporting events and raise funds for OPERATION Hug-A-Hero! Again, we will provide a promotional flyer for you to post and distribute to your students and on your website.
For more information, contact our Director of Development, Stephanie Crabb at 888-HUG-0329, ext 113 or Stephanie At operationhugahero.org.
“It’s not easy hearing the challenges that other military families are facing. I’ve talked to families struggling with the loss of their loved one, children having a hard time sleeping while daddy or mommy is deployed, kids staring out of the window each night waiting for daddy and not understanding why he doesn’t come home from work, and so many other heart-wrenching stories.”
Operation Hug-A-Hero’s Executive Director, Lisa Berg was recently asked to write an article for publication in the Christian Military Fellowship November Newsletter. Lisa does a great job discussing the difficulties that parents of deployed service members often encounter and how her own power of prayer gets her through the difficult moments and which led her to a rewarding association with Operation Hug-A-Hero. Here is Lisa’s introduction and a few snippets from the article. To read the entire Newsletter please click on the link above to the Christian Military Fellowship website (CMF).
Greetings Operation Hug-A-Hero supporters! I was asked by Christian Military Fellowship to write an article for their newsletter about my personal journey as a Christian and why I chose Operation Hug-A-Hero as a non-profit organization to be involved with. I thought you might be interested in reading it. After doing so, I also encourage you to add your comments and thoughts on this Blog post. Thanks!
“Many military parents worry that their kids won’t remember them when they get back from a deployment (which is often 6 to 12 months or longer). Seeing photos of their kids interacting with their Hug-A-Hero doll and including them in family events such as Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas, and so on, shows these parents that they are not forgotten.”
An interesting story published on Thursday January 14th, 2010 in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled “Deployment and the Use of Mental Health Services among U.S. Army Wives” discovered that the wives of soldiers deployed suffered higher mental health issues.
This was the largest study ever undertaken. The results are very conclusive and indicate “that the mental health effects of current military operations are extending beyond soldiers and into their immediate families.”
The study shows again “that when a service member deploys, the entire family deploys,” said Air Force Maj. April Cunningham, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
The results of this study mirror the findings from the RAND Corp. study of military children that we reported on last month in our Operation Hug-A-Hero SPECIAL REPORT,Children and Military Deployments that discusses Deployment Effects on Children of Military Families. The NEJM story details the fact that Children of deployed parents suffer more emotional issues, particularly if separations are long or the parent at home is troubled.
It’s a fact … kids do worse when Mom does worse. “So if spouses are more likely to need mental health services as deployment times increase, than their kids are more at risk.”
The NEJM story is pretty technical, so if you want an easier read, I would suggest the USA Today summary that you can read by clicking here: Army wives with deployed husbands suffer higher mental health issues.
The NEJM report along with the RAND report signify that children of military parents are adversely impacted emotionally with a parent who is deployed away from home for significant amount of time. This is the main reason that Operation Hug-A-Hero was created. We can and have made huge positive psychological impacts to the children that are recipients of our FREE Hug-A-Hero® dolls.
At Operation Hug-A-Hero® we know firsthand the negative effects deployments can have on children. After all Hug-A-Hero® Dolls were created by two military wives who struggled with a way for their children to be able to connect with their fathers who were deployed Marines. That was the original basis for Daddy Dolls®. The founders Tricia and Nikki, saw the huge psychological payback for their own children by seeing the connection their own children had with the dolls, which bear the image of their fathers. Several years later the nonprofit OPERATION Hug-A-Hero was created.
Up until recently little was known about how children were affected by long absences from parents who were deployed overseas and the reintegration after their return home. The National Military Family Association commissioned a study by the RAND Corporation that addresses this issue.
The research is among the first to explore how these children are faring academically, socially, and emotionally during an extended period of wartime. Results show that children from military families studied may be experiencing above average levels of emotional and behavioral difficulties, relative to national norms.
This report has had a fairly wide media response and has been published in Stars and Stripes, New York Times and the Science Daily to name a few. We have provided links to the actual reports for your benefit.
You can read the full report from Rand’s Press Release – here Longer Parental Deployment Linked to More Emotional Challenges for Military Children
Additionally you can download the full report in a PDF format directly from the National Military Family Associations website.
Views from the Home Front – The Experience of Children from Military Families
Here are the major points from this report:
■ Children in military families experienced emotional and behavioral difficulties at rates above national averages.
■ About one-third of the children reported symptoms of anxiety, which is somewhat higher than the percentage reported in other studies of children.
■ Self-reported problems varied by age and gender: Older youths and boys reported more difficulties with school and more problem behaviors, such as fighting; greater numbers of younger children (compared with older children) and girls reported anxiety symptoms.
The results also revealed challenges posed specifically by deployment:
■ Longer periods of parental deployment (within the past three years) were linked to greater difficulties in children’s social and emotional functioning, at least based on caregiver reports.
■ Deployment-related challenges varied by age and gender: Older youths experienced greater school- and peer-related difficulties during deployment; girls experienced greater difficulties during the period of reintegration than did boys.
■Children whose caregivers had better self-reported mental health were better able to cope with the deployment experience both during and after.
■ Living on-base was linked with reduced difficulties both during and after deployment.
The results represent an important first step in understanding the link between parental deployment and military child and family well-being. The findings suggest the need for more research to improve understanding in several areas, including the link between caregiver mental health and child well-being and the reasons why girls and older youth may be reporting more challenges with deployment. The results also highlight several avenues for possible intervention. For example, families may benefit from targeted support to deal with stressors from multiple months of deployment, rather than only during initial months. Further, families in which caregivers face mental health issues may need more support for both caregiver and child.
Reports like this validate the OHAH mission and are the reason why our volunteers are eager to help us achieve our goals. We want to help our military children who are faced with the inevitable. Founder of Operation Hug-A-Hero®, Tricia Dyal, states “We want to be able to help these children by providing them with a coping mechanism before that parent ever deploys. A Hug-A-Hero® doll should be their security blanket.”