JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
Over 150 Joint Base San Antonio youths participated in the annual Operation Junior Expeditionary Team hosted by the 433rd Airlift Wing Aug. 11 here at JBSA-Lackland.
Operation JET is an annual event that provides children of military service members a chance to experience the deployment process their parents go through.
The 502nd Force Support Squadron and 802nd Military and Family Readiness Center setup the mock deployment in the 433rd Maintenance Squadron’s engine shop.
Participating in Operation JET were youth from all three JBSA installations: Lackland, Fort Sam Houston and Randolph.
Col. David Scott, 433rd AW vice commander, kicked off the annual event by giving an impassioned speech that fired up the crowd.
“The 433rd wants to be a great mission partner for JBSA. So we were happy to help out with this event and provide a location,” said Scott, “This event gives kids from all over JBSA an opportunity to see what it’s like to have a parent of loved one deploy.”
After the opening remarks, the attendees broke into four groups and rotated through the four deployment stations. Each station represented a stop in a military member's processing before deployment. The stations included an obstacle course, deployment health, explosive ordnance disposal, and combat arms.
In the spirit of the event, children also had the opportunity to have their faces painted with "war paint."
“This mock deployment is absolutely essential to our kids wellbeing because it give them insight into what their parents are going through when they get ready to deploy,” said Joanna Rios, 502nd FSS school age coordinator. “Our goal is to meet every family’s needs which includes nurturing our children’s emotional needs and that’s one of the things Operation Junior Expeditionary Team does.”
The event couldn’t have happened without everyone coming together to do some heavy lifting.
“We couldn’t have done this without the support of the 433rd AW and their leadership, including the numerous volunteers and the military and family readiness center” said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Bell, 37th Training Support Squadron combat weapons operations. “At the end of the day no matter how hard it gets, resiliency comes from strength and family.”