JACKSON, Ohio (WSAZ) -- We hear about the many challenges in helping wounded or disabled veterans get their lives back together when they return from combat in foreign lands.
If those soldiers have it tough, think about what it's like for some of their children.
Military support groups also come in kids' sizes -- set up as one-of-a-kind summer camps.
By midweek at Camp Corral in Jackson County, Ohio, fun games and smiles abound.
But counselors say at the summer camp for children of wounded or disabled or recently deployed military veterans, many of the 132 kids -- hailing from Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and beyond -- begin their week-long stay with personalities and emotions that are subdued and guarded.
“These kids are amazing, but they've been through a lot," counselor Kelsey Hardy said. "And with every trial, there's another brick in the wall, so they guard themselves. But they are starting to warm up."
You don’t hear the sound of combat machine guns, but pistols in the firing range.
First time camper Kayle River, whose stepfather was wounded in Afghanistan, was thrilled about two things: her first time shooting a gun and meeting other kids who share her military family challenges.
“At first there's a rush of nervousness, but once you start shooting you feel powerful," Kayle said. "Some feel like they have nobody once someone is killed, but if they are wounded, they don't know what it's like. Here you can learn everything and make fast friends and realize you are not the only one.”
In a game of maneuvering blindfolded through a made up land mine field, campers worked to avoid the hazards and make it through without harm.
On military appreciation day at Camp Corral, visiting Army Brigadier Gen. Phillip Chum said getting these children together takes the camouflage away -- from coping and recovery issues an army veteran knows all too well.
“When soldiers deploy, it's easier to talk to another soldier about your experiences," Chum said. "It’s the same with kids; it's easier for them to talk to each other about what they are going through.”
They call Camp Corral the “week of a lifetime.” It’s all for children who the long-timers say create friendships and bonds that make their lives easier to handle.
There are nine Camp Corral locations in eight states across the county. Sponsored by the Golden Corral restaurant chain, they all offer one-week camps for children of wounded or disabled military families.
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