In honor of Independence Day, Duracell is shining a light on the children of U.S. military service members and the sacrifices they make when their parent is deployed. Two-time Academy Award-winner, Hilary Swank, shares her support of the program as the daughter of a service member herself; her father is a retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant.
Since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001, more than 2 million American children have had a deployed parent, according to the “Military Children and Families” report conducted by Princeton University/Brookings (Fall 2013). Many of them have seen multiple deployments, three, four, or even five family separations. A major issue that children have during a military deployment is the void that opens when they lose their parent’s daily affection and love. A new film from Duracell shows this struggle through the eyes of the ones left behind.
Duracell was inspired to tell this story when they recently met with one particular military family, the Nilsons. To help their two young daughters cope with his impending deployment, Robert Nilson, a Navy Air Traffic Controller, and his wife, Denise, found a way for Robert to be connected with his children while he was away from home. On the day of his deployment, he and Denise gave their daughters a battery-powered teddy bear, pre-recorded with a message of love from him to his girls. It was a way for the children to hear their father’s voice when they needed it most. This bear became a symbol of Robert, trusted to always be there for his daughters while he was serving overseas.
In honor of all of the families who hold down the home front, Duracell is working to help power more comforting moments for loved ones through its support of the United Service Organizations (USO), one of the nation’s most respected charities serving military service members and their families. Duracell is donating $100,000 USD to the USO’s Comfort Crew for Military Kids program which helps military children cope during their parent’s deployment.
“We were so inspired by this story, we wanted to share it,” says Jeff Jarrett, Duracell Brand Director. “We met the Nilsons and realized just how difficult it is for these families to stay connected during a deployment. With their story of the teddy bear, they helped us understand the impact that a battery-powered recordable bear could have on children—a way to hear Mom or Dad on command while they’re deployed, allowing them to always be there. Duracell wants to help power even more moments of connection by supporting the USO’s formidable efforts to assist military families.”
The USO’s Comfort Crew for Military Kids program gives military children a safe, comfortable environment to explore, with their peers, the challenges of growing up in the military. The Comfort Crew for Military Kids program supports military children with the worldwide USO “With You All The Way! Tour,” lead by inspirational author and performer Trevor Romain, and through the distribution of Comfort Kits, which gives military families the resources they need to tackle tough issues on the home front. In 2014, the USO distributed more than 15,000 kits and the “With You All the Way! Tour” shared its inspirational message with more than 22,000 military children and families.
“Military children and parents often struggle when their loved one deploys. Having deployed several times away from my wife and children, I know that military families can relate to Duracell’s story of the Nilson family,” says Alan Reyes, USO Senior Vice President of Operations. “The USO aims to ease the challenges of separation through family strengthening programs like the Comfort Crew for Military Kids. We are grateful for Duracell’s passion for helping us keep military families strong and connected.”
Military families strive to find ways to keep their child feeling connected to their deployed parent. However, the unpredictability of schedules and the vast time differences make it difficult to connect. Recordable teddy bears, along with other battery-powered devices such as recordable storybooks, help provide reliable comfort no matter when or where their parent is deployed.
“We are also honored to have Hilary Swank join us to lend her voice and share her story for this powerful program,” says Jeff Jarrett. “She is a committed and passionate individual who has firsthand knowledge of being a part of a military family.”
“In a military family everyone serves, especially the children – they too have to make sacrifices,” says Hilary Swank. “I can understand how the girl in the Duracell film feels, and all children of deployed parents, with their father or mother away from home. It wasn’t easy for me when my father was away for many months at a time with the Air Force, but he always worked hard to stay connected with us through phone calls. I think it’s wonderful that children now have things such as a battery-powered recordable teddy bear to hear their parents’ voice when they need it most.”
Consumers can watch the video at www.YouTube.com/OfficialDuracell and share to make more people aware of the issue. In addition to the $100,000 donation from the brand, Duracell is also asking supporters to donate to the USO at www.uso.org/donate and support its efforts to help military children and families stay connected with their deployed loved ones.
Disclaimer: Nothing in this release is intended to imply Department of Defense endorsement of Duracell, the USO, or the Comfort Crew for Military Kids Program.