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Sesame Street Supports Military Families During TDYs

Military personnel with their child Sesame Street for Military Families launches a suite of new resources for families preparing for a TDY—whether the parent is headed off for training, schooling, a short-term humanitarian assistance mission, or a special event (Photo by: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Lieberknecht).

Even in the most challenging times, service members and their families continue to thrive.

For military children these challenges often leave them with questions or strong feelings about what they hear on the news or at home.

Temporary duty assignments, which typically last anywhere from a few days to a few months, bring their own complications, especially when there is little time to adjust to a parent leaving. But military families have always been resourceful about staying connected over long distances, and temporary duty is no exception.

To help, Sesame Street for Military Families today launches a suite of new resources for families preparing for a TDY- whether the parent is headed off for training, schooling, a short-term humanitarian assistance mission, or a special event.

Temporary duty is often both shorter and more frequent than longer-term deployments outside the continental United States, but they share some challenges, like disruption of family routines and the possibility for separation anxiety. Technologies like video calls, mobile apps, or family social media groups can make it easier for service members on temporary duty to reach their loved ones back home.

Sesame Street characters
Elmo has questions about his dad, Louie’s short-term National Guard assignment (Courtesy of Sesame Street).

Now, the new Sesame Street for Military Families digital resources offer a road map to help navigate TDYs. Sesame Street's own military kids, Elmo and Rosita, model the feelings and experiences children may encounter, in videos, printable activities, and articles that cover three main areas: preparing for temporary duty, staying connected while the parent is away, and adjusting when the family reunites.

Across all the new materials, families will find the mantra "We're in this together even when we're apart, we stay connected in each other's hearts."

The videos follow Elmo and his family as Elmo's dad, Louie, goes on a short-term National Guard assignment. Elmo feels disappointed when his dad can't come to Elmo's first t-ball game, but shares joyful moments with him via videos and calls, and the whole family celebrates with a song when Louie returns. Articles for parents suggest activities and language to help small children understand the temporary nature - and importance - of their parent's absence. Printable activities, including a coloring page and lyric sheet for the new song, "I'm With You," serve as jumping-off points for family conversations before, during, and after the TDY.

"When a parent serves, the whole family serves - that's something military kids can be proud of. At Sesame Workshop, we appreciate that service, and, with these new materials, we hope to help military families feel strong and connected whether they're near or far," said Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop's senior vice president of U.S. Social Impact. "We want children to know they're never alone - their families are there to support them, and their Sesame Street pals are sharing similar experiences and emotions, too."

"TDYs are a regular part of life for all military families. TDY-specific content from Sesame Street for Military Families was something military parents and subject matter experts were asking for, so we hope the new resources will be a welcome addition throughout the community," said Dr. Kelly Blasko, counseling psychologist and the lead for mobile health clinical integration at the Defense Health Agency Connected Health Branch. "We are really excited to have worked with Sesame Workshop to create TDY materials to continue the mission of improving the well-being of military parents and their young children."

The new TDY materials join a robust lineup of resources to uplift and support families through deployments, homecomings, long-term family caregiving, transitions in health care, and much more. The resources are free to families and providers and available in English and Spanish on the Sesame Street for Military Families website.

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

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