Another fantastic suggestion that originates from Elaine Dumler’s book “I’m Already Home…Again – Keeping Your Family Close While On Assignment or Deployment“, is a Flat Daddy(TM). Since many deployments last anywhere from 6 months to 15 months, children of service members lose a sense of connection to the deployed parent. A Flat Daddy is a life-size photo (from the waist up) of the service member mounted on foam board and laminated for sturdiness. And, yes, of course, there are Flat Mommy’s too.
Military families really embrace these life-size dolls, taking them to events the service member is otherwise missing (like birthday parties, school recitals, trips to the zoo). Many will take a photo of the family with the Flat Daddy and send it to the deployed service member to let him/her know that he/she is missed. It’s also particularly effective for small children to use to remember what the deployed parent looks like. There are stories of families having Flat Daddy sit at his normal seat at the dinner table and the kids take turns telling him about their activities at home. Flat Daddy can also be present when the deployed parent calls and speaks to the children or when recordings are played of the deployed parent reading a bed time story.
Consider providing a mobilized employee’s family with a Flat Daddy. Here are two ways you can do it:
- Subsidize the full cost of producing the Flat Daddy by arranging to give a gift of a Flat Daddy through the company that has been producing this product since 2006. The recipient receives an email message with a voucher code to redeem for the cost of the Flat Daddy. Complete instructions are found here.
- Subsidize part of the cost by taking the service member’s photo and using your local resources to blow the photo up to life size (complete instructions are found here). Provide the poster to the family and they can arrange to have it mounted and laminated.
Posted by Lisa Rosser, Author of and Speaker/Workshop Leader on The Value Of a Veteran(TM): The Guide for Human Resource Professionals to Regarding, Recruiting, and Retaining Military Veterans