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Deployment dolls with a heart

A blank deployment doll awaiting use from a family member in need (Courtesy of Wanda Tucker)

A unique solution for military children missing their deployed parents

To ease the stress of deployment, the Borden Family Resource Centre (BFRC) offers comfort to children of deployed members by way of a plush and huggable doll that contains a recordable voice box and picture frame face, also known as deployment dolls.

Deployment dolls are a unique way to keep families connected across the world. Prior to deployment, the military member can record a message that the child can listen to while the member is away.  The message can also be re-recorded via phone in the event of a longer deployment or to celebrate a milestone or special occasion that may occur while they are away.

Dolls are offered to qualifying members when they come to complete the pre-deployment process at the BFRC.

Wanda Tucker holding a deployment doll at the BFRC (Courtesy of Wanda Tucker)

“The BFRC has been thrilled with the response received from those who have received the dolls,” said BFRC Family Support Program Supervisor, Wanda Tucker. “There’s just something special about hearing the voice and seeing the face of your loved one at any time of the day or night.”

When Corporal Samantha Vetter and her family experienced deployment for the first time she was brand new to Base Borden and on maternity leave with her now two-year-old daughter, Alex.

“To outsiders it’s very strange,” said Cpl Vetter. “We had lots of family be like, ‘How could you ever do this to your kid, like deploy when they’re so young?’, but I think it’s just one of the sacrifices we make as a family when we decide to have kids in the military.”

Cpl Vetter has served for nearly five years and her spouse, also a member, has served for over 10 years.  Cpl Vetter’s daughter Alex was eight months old when her dad deployed for six months. By reinforcing a nightly routine that involved a deployment doll, Alex was able to hear her father’s voice before bedtime every night.

Alex Vetter’s deployment doll used while her father served overseas (Courtesy of Cpl Vetter)

“I would make sure that she heard him say, I think the phrase was, ‘Good night Alex, I love you.’ and she heard that every night,” said Cpl Vetter. “That was really clutch because of the time difference. [My husband] was going to bed when it was our lunchtime, so we didn’t get to talk to them [until] after noon every day. So just having that part for the bedtime routine, I think helped me and her.”

The trademarked HUGGEE MISS YOU™ dolls were first discovered being distributed by another MFRC however, after researching and realizing that there was also a recordable version of the doll available, the Borden Family Resource Centre knew they had to get onboard and eagerly placed their first order.  

Anyone wishing to have more information is encouraged to contact the Centre at 705-424-1200 Ext. 3994.

By: Caleb Hooper