- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 23, 2009


Month of the Military Child is celebrated Army-wide throughout April. PBS kicked off the observance April 1 with a prime-time special, “Coming Home,” starring everyone’s favorite furry red friend, Elmo. Also lending their star appeal were special guests including actress-singer Queen Latifah and singer-songwriter John Mayer.

This program is an effective tool to bring greater awareness to those returning from combat zones with war-related injuries, both visible and invisible. The program also addresses how children in particular need help to cope with an injured parent.

“Nobody puts their life on the line like our military does; they defend our country, and they do it without question. I don’t think people always realize the sacrifice that the families make,” said Grammy and Golden Globe winner Queen Latifah. “We’ve grown up with ‘Sesame Street,’ we’ve learned from it, and we’re endeared to the characters. The characters break the barriers down, they break the nervousness down; they make this whole subject more approachable.”

Military families from Fort Bragg, N.C., had the chance to attend a special preview screening of “Coming Home” at Fayetteville’s Airborne and Special Operations Museum on March 27 and 28. A local dual-military couple, Michael and Tiffany Martin, are featured in the video. Their involvement and appearance in the program have made it even more personal to the Fort Bragg community. During the 30-minute segment, PBS salutes the extraordinary courage and strength of military families and offers the general public a powerful glimpse into what they must endure.

Mr. Martin returned home to Fort Hood in 2004 with a combat-related brain injury and was medically discharged in 2005. The Martin family is stationed at Fort Bragg where, Mrs. Martin serves in a Reserve unit. “I have received great support from the Army Wounded Warrior Program here at Fort Bragg,” Mrs. Martin said. “They are mine and Michael’s best advocate.”

The Martins have three children, and Mrs. Martin said the biggest challenge with her husband’s injury is his short-term memory loss. “I have to stop myself from arguing with him when he thinks that he told me something,” she said.

Mrs. Martin has used the services offered by Healing Adventures and Operation Purple; both organizations offer support to families of injured soldiers. “It has been good therapy for me to share my story and be able to help others,” she said.

The program was created by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization that produces “Sesame Street.” Worldwide Pants Inc., owned by CBS late-night host David Letterman, and Lookalike Productions also assisted in producing the program.

“The men and women of our military have made indescribable sacrifices,” Mr. Letterman said in a March 13 press release. “The very least we can do is tell their stories, and to honor the bravery and strength of both the soldiers and their families.”

Sesame Workshop has produced more than 1.3 million outreach kits with information for wounded warriors and their families. The kits are being distributed widely at no cost for the benefit of military families. The Talk, Listen, Connect materials also are available online at www.sesameworkshop.org/initiatives/emotion/tlc. Families everywhere can view the videos and download the information. Families can also find information about the program at www.pbs.org/parents.

Kelly Twedell is a writer in Fayetteville, N.C. Her husband is stationed at Fort Bragg.

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