By Alicia Lacy

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD - Watching the reactions of dozens of children and seeing their faces light up makes it all worthwhile for Robin Crouse.

Crouse, USO Fort Hood director, attended The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families at Fort Hood Sunday. The show spawned from a partnership between the two organizations two years ago.

For five shows, Sesame Street characters performed a 30-minute interactive song and dance routine to help young military children learn ways to cope with deployments and their emotions.

The show opened with a song and dance routine, followed by Elmo announcing his dad leaving again for work.

"Sometimes, Elmo has a not-so-sunny day because his daddy has to go away for a while," Elmo said.

Throughout the show, Elmo and his friends - Grover, Cookie Monster, Rosita and Zoe - sang about the things they do to help deal with the absence of a parent for an extended period of time.

The characters each sang about things they like to do. Grover writes letters and draws pictures to send to his friends. Elmo likes to have his mom read him stories his dad used to read to him, and Rosita sings with her family.

Susan Watts attended with her daughters, Kiarah, 7, and Alana, 3. Watts' husband and the girls' father left Saturday on his first deployment.

Watts said the show helped get the deployment off their minds.

"We've been talking to them about it for a long time," Watts said. "The girls helped him pack and went to see him off."

The tour falls under Sesame Workshop's Talk, Listen, Connect initiative.

"Sesame Street's Talk, Listen, Connect program focused on deployment and changes for military families and wanted to expand the reach of that message," Lonnie Cooper, tour manager USO/Sesame Street Experience, said about the tour.

Cooper said the show helps children understand and deal with deployments and open the dialogue between the children and parents.

"They really get it and understand what Elmo is talking about," he said.

Sesame Workshop launched the program in 2006 to support military families with young children who experience the effects of deployments or wounded parents.

Contact Alicia Lacy at or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.

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