ORLANDO, Fla.- “We've all heard Gen. Odierno's closing comments
to his speeches: the strength of our nation is our Army, the
strength of our Army is our Soldiers, and the strength of our
Soldiers is our families. There is no Soldier who has become
successful without the support of a caring family. The large
presence at this Yellow Ribbon event is proof of just how much they
care,” said Maj. Gen. Leslie Purser, 108th Training Command (IET)
The Army Reserve Yellow Ribbon
Reintegration program is designed to provide resources to Soldiers
and their families throughout every phase of deployment.
for the families of Soldiers from the 108th Training Command (IET)
deployed as Task Force Beast in Afghanistan, the greatest resource
provided to them at a recent event in Orlando was each other.
January 31, 2005 - Soldiers and family members get to know one another during the opening ceremonies of the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration program event held in Orlando, Fla. What started in 2007 by the Minnesota National Guard, has since grown throughout the entire National Guard and Army Reserve. The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration program provides resilience training to service members and their families as well as raising awareness of the numerous programs available to all deploying service members. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton)
“If it weren't for the Yellow Ribbon events, I wouldn't
have the support network that I do. Our Soldiers were pulled
from all across the country for this deployment. I was able
to meet everyone in our group during the first event. We do
a weekly check-in that I really look forward to. I can
discuss issues that arise and I always get a great response.
Through the Yellow Ribbon, I realized that I am not alone
and it helps,” said Jessica Garza, the spouse of a deployed
Reserve Soldier now dealing with deployment stress for the
“Having a connection with everyone and
meeting people who are on the same level and just knowing
that they are going through the same struggles as me makes
it easier. Even though we live far apart, we keep in
contact, whether it's through email or a phone call. I've
made some great friends through this program and in the
military once you make a friend, you've got a friend for
life,” Garza added.
Mary Langley, now dealing with her third deployment agreed.
“Yellow Ribbon wasn't an option the first two
deployments because my husband and I weren't married. I
didn't know what this was all about but I gave it a try and
it's been a huge help. I've met some great friends through
this program who serve as my support group. This was my
first opportunity to participate in Yellow Ribbon and it's
been a great benefit,” Langley said.
Ribbon Reintegration program was originally the brainchild
of the Minnesota National Guard and was known as Beyond the
Yellow Ribbon program. The concept quickly spread throughout
the entire National Guard and in 2008 congress mandated that
the Reserve component offer the program to all deploying
service members and their families.
began as seven events, Yellow Ribbon has gone through
several revisions until it was finally streamlined into the
program it is today, offering Soldiers and their families a
total of four events: one pre-deployment, one
during-deployment, and two post-deployment events.
The goal of the program is to provide resources for
deploying Soldiers and their families throughout the entire
deployment; from the notification of deployment to long
after the Soldier has returned. Among the many services
offered are resilience training, Tricare benefits, and
budgeting and financial service training.
mission is to help organize the different events, but
there's been quite a few times when I have ended up serving
as a conduit between the families and the different
resources. Sometimes the families will want to know how to
get in touch with different resources such as military one
source or family programs and we try to point them in the
right direction,” said Laquiton Hare, Yellow Ribbon
Reintegration program contractor for the 108th Training
“There's a great deal of detail that
goes into bringing all this together but I love it. When I
deployed we didn't have Yellow Ribbon. We had family
readiness groups and things like that but this helps bring
all the benefits and services that are available to the
Soldiers and their families directly to them. It takes out
the guess work,” Hare said.
For each event, service
providers and vendors are brought together under one roof
and are given the opportunity to present their product
directly to each service member and their families, each in
their own unique way.
“With active duty service
members you have a captive audience. They are told to be
there and they are there. With family members it's a little
bit different especially on the active duty side. It's hard
to bring all of those families together. With the Yellow
Ribbon you have the opportunity to bring all of those
families together and it works. This is my first experience
with the program but it work's and I like it,” said Gerald
Felder, suicide prevention program manager for the 143rd
Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and retired Navy
“I was anticipating something completely
different when I took this job. But I have to say the
Reserve component has done a great job of getting me out and
about and talking to people. It's important but a lot of
people don't see the importance until something happens.
Events like this help. It give you a proactive approach to
some difficult subjects,” Felder said.
No matter how
you look at it, one thing everyone involved in the Yellow
Ribbon Reintegration program agreed on, from family member
to program contractor to vendor; Yellow Ribbon helps build
upon our Army's greatest resource, families.
By U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton
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