TYSONS CORNER, Va. –
When Army Reserve Ambassador Isabelle Slifer discussed the importance of Army Families with nearly 1,000 attendees during the U.S. Army Reserve Command’s recent Yellow Ribbon reintegration event here, her words were informed by experience.
As a Family Member whose then-teenaged son deployed to Iraq in 2009, Slifer was happy to play a role in a small-group discussion with more than 300 attendees in the event’s “During Deployment” group.
“The difference between an active-duty and Army Reserve Solider deploying primarily exists with their Family Members,” said Slifer, who serves as Army Reserve ambassador for the Commonwealth of Virginia. “For the vast part, the active-duty Family Member lives in a contained environment on an Army installation where they can reach out to a fellow Family Member in their Soldier's unit.
“For Army Reserve Family Members, they can be miles away and don't have the luxury of reaching out in close range to a fellow Family Member in their Soldier's unit,” she continued. “Therefore, the Army Reserve member must be schooled to know what to expect and have the opportunity to meet a Family Member in their Soldier's unit.”
The Army Reserve Ambassador Program was established in April 1998 for private citizens to promote awareness of the Army Reserve, and the identified goals and objectives of the Chief of Army Reserve. ARAs develop awareness and advocacy with community leaders and are vitally important bridges to communities across the Nation.
Slifer is a major advocate of the Yellow Ribbon Program, stemming from her experience as Family Member herself and one who understands the importance of networking with other Family Members in order to help calm the loneliness and apprehension that accompany deployments, and to deal with changes in the returning Soldier that the Family Member may not have expected.
“It is good to know what is and is not normal,” Slifer explained. “Also, it is reassuring to know what outside organizations are available to help you in a crisis.”
There were several outside organizations on hand to provide support and services to Soldiers and Family Members attending the Yellow Ribbon event. This “Yellow Brick Road to Success” was headlined by the Army Reserve’s Fort Family, which provides installation-commensurate services to geographically dispersed Families-in-need.
To learn more about the Army Reserve Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, visit http://www.yellowribbon.mil/yrrp/
To learn more about the Army Reserve Ambassador Program, visit http://www.usar.army.mil/Featured/Ambassador-Program/