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Photo Credit: Emily Brainard

By Emily Brainard, Army Flier Staff

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Sept. 16, 2010) — Children of deployed servicemembers gained a new skill Sept. 11 thanks to Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers members' help.

About 30 youngsters learned or improved their fishing skills during a children's fishing event at Buckhorn Lake.

BOSS hosted the annual event along with the Heart's Apart program, which provides activities for children separated from their parents by deployment. The event was also open to Survivor Outreach Services members.

"It provides a wonderful mentorship program (where) BOSS can help children learn something (their parent at home) maybe isn't good at," said Beth Gunter, SOS financial counselor. "They (also) know they're not alone. People are there to support and encourage them."

Spending time with peers helps ease the long periods of separation and build Army Family resiliency, said Ruth Gonzalez, Army Community Service Relocation Readiness Program manager.

"It shows that there's a community that supports them whether the Family member is gone or temporarily on deployment," she said. "Military Families don't have the convenience of having Family here, so we rely on the military as our Family."

Adriana Figueroa, 9, said she enjoyed being around other Soldiers, who reminded her of her deployed dad.

"I haven't been fishing in a while. (I like it because) you get to get your hands dirty and wait (for fish) to bite," she said.

Deb White brought her grandchildren, Zachary and Sydney Luckey, 2 and 3, as a way to entertain them while their father is in Iraq and "just to have fun and enjoy fishing. The opportunity was there and they love being outside."

Megan Dye said having positive role models for her 4-year-old daughter, Lettie, helps while her husband spends more than a year serving in Iraq.

"It's good when there's men involved. They're like daddy figure(s) and role models," she said of the male BOSS members.

Pfc. Richard Patton, BOSS and B Company, 1st Battalion, 11th Aviation Regiment member, said he participated to share his love of the sport with youngsters.

"I love to fish and I love teaching kids to fish," he said. "It takes their minds off (their parents being deployed)."

Patton assisted Jacob Tucker, 4, in baiting and casting his line. Jacob's mother said the activity brightened her son's day.

"My children have been bugging me to go fishing," Lori Tucker said. "(Jacob) gets to do an activity that he relates to his dad. We really appreciate the single Soldiers giving up their Saturday.