Kids Have 'Daddy' Near And Dear During Deployment

Kids Have 'Daddy' Near And Dear During Deployment
April 10th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: Kids Have 'Daddy' Near And Dear During Deployment

Kids Have 'Daddy' Near And Dear During Deployment
Honolulu Advertiser
April 9, 2007
By John Milburn, Associated Press
FORT RILEY, Kan. For 2-year-old Anna Pribyla, it can be difficult to understand what it means for her dad to be in Iraq.
Every soldier looks like him. Even the neighbor's car looks like her father's.
But like thousands of other military children, Anna has something to cling to. She has her Daddy Doll, a small pillow, shaped like a person, with a digital picture of her dad, Capt. Eric Pribyla, printed on the front.
"She gets to sleep with him at night and still kiss him good night," said mom Chrissy Pribyla. "He goes everywhere with her because it keeps him fresh in her mind."
As the four-year Iraq war drags on, more families are keeping memories alive with the dolls or life-size posters called a Flat Daddy or Flat Mommy.
Michelle Kelley, a psychology professor at Old Dominion University, said dolls and posters aren't a panacea for missing a parent, but they could be a good test for how children are coping.
"If the caregiver sees that they are clutching and being weepy, it might be a good indication that they have emotions they can't explain or aren't feeling well about deployment," Kelley said.
And the worst scenario is they end up the bottom of a toy box.
"Each kid's different. Some kids might be into dolls and might be interested in it," Kelley said. "The big picture is to continue doing everything you were going to do. Keep the routine going."
Daddy Dolls started when Tricia Dyal asked a relative to make a doll for her children. Her husband, Marine Maj. Justin Dyal, was heading to Iraq for the second time in less than two years with a 4-year-old and newborn at home.
"My husband just deployed; the kids got sick and were hospitalized. I contacted my great-aunt and said, 'A picture's just not doing it. They need more,"' said Dyal, who lives near Camp Lejeune, N.C.
What she got was a doll with the picture of their father, something her children could clutch when they didn't feel well, something that would remind them of their dad.
"Our doll has been to doctor's visits. The first day of school it was in the backpack," she said. "It was for the kids. It fills in for the daddy or the parent deployed."
Dyal provides the pillows several thousand so far at a little more than the cost of supplies, $25 for a 17-inch doll or $19 for a 12-inch doll for smaller kids.
Flat Daddies were created by Sgt. 1st Class Barbara Claudel of the Maine National Guard to help families stay connected during deployments to Iraq. Seven months ago, SFC Graphics, a firm in Toledo, Ohio, got involved, taking on the job of printing the posters and getting them to families at little or no cost.
"When we heard the story, we said it was a nice fit for what we do every day," said Eric Crockett, national program director for SFC Flat Daddy. "She wanted to keep it in the original intent and free to families."
More information is available at and