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FILE - A retired U.S. Army sergeant from Utah has written a pair of children's books to help families cope with the deployment of a parent.

PROVO — A retired U.S. Army sergeant has written a pair of children's books to help families cope with the deployment of a parent.

Leslie Zimmerman said she was inspired to write the books after seeing her nieces and nephews struggle when her older sister was deployed, the Daily Herald in Provo reports. Zimmerman said children of deployed parents can suffer depression, anxiety and anger.

Zimmerman is now a mother but didn't have children when she was deployed to Iraq in 2003. She was a combat medic before being honorably discharged after developing post-traumatic stress disorder. She said writing the books is a way to continue to support military families.

The books, titled "When Dad Deploys" and "When Mom Deploys," are designed to help families know how best to communicate during the separation and let the children know they can still enjoy things while their parent is gone. They are the same story, just with different pronouns and illustrations, which were done by her younger sister.

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"This gives parents and children a little bit of control over how they feel," said Zimmerman, of Pleasant Grove. "They sometimes have the fear of moving on and enjoying their life when their parents are gone."

Zimmerman said her niece thought her mother was dead during her two-year deployment and would have her toy animals die when she played.

"Every time my sister would leave, when she came back from war, they'd cry," Zimmerman said. "They didn't want her to go because they didn't know what to expect."

Zimmerman previously wrote a children's book about a turtle who dreams about what he'll do when he grows up.