December 5, 2016 –
FORT MEADE, Md. – Networking is a term used by millions of professionals across the world. Professors, mentors and parents spend a great amount of time and effort drilling the concept into the lives of students, protégés and children.
For Army Reserve Soldiers, the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is a bit like a networking event. The Department of Defense developed the program to connect service members and their families with local resources before, during and after deployments.
This past weekend, deploying U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 307th Military Police Company, 744th Military Police Battalion, 430th Military Police Detachment and the 200th Military Police Command attended a Yellow Ribbon event hosted by the 200th MP Command in Pittsburgh, where they got the opportunity to do just that.
“The Yellow Ribbon allows the family member to have connections with military leaders while their loved ones deploy, so it creates a lot of communication and it eliminates a lot of problems that could occur with not knowing who to contact. It develops a lot of camaraderie,” said Lt. Col. Andre Holder, the commander of the 336th Military Police Battalion out of Pittsburgh.
Soldiers got the opportunity to learn about the benefits and resources offered by organizations like Tricare, Family Programs and Veteran’s Affairs. They also attended classes that taught the emotional cycles of a deployment and exposed them to various ways of dealing with stress.
Time management is a key concept taught during the emotional cycles of deployment class. In order to help the deployment go by smoothly Soldiers and family member alike should stay engaged.
Deployment is a great opportunity to work on self-development skills, says Sgt. Steven W. Miller. “Set goals and work on the education, have financial goals, build yourself a basis for success so when you get back so it will be easier to transition back into civilian life,” Miller is a part of the 307th Military Police Company of New Kensington, Pa.
Yellow ribbon provides Soldiers, especially young ones, the opportunity to develop a plan of attack as they prepare for deployment, said Sgt. Lacy Rohrbaugh from the 307th Military Police Company of New Kensington, Pa.
“I have all privates. One just recently promoted to specialist, so I’m the only one that has deployed. One thing that I tell them over and over again is that a month before you leave is not time to get your affairs in order, you need to do that now,” she said. “You need to communicate with your family. You need to communicate with your school. You need to communicate with your employers. There is so much that goes into getting ready to leave.” Rohrbaugh is one of the team leaders deploying to Cuba.
The family members that accompany the Soldiers received the same training they do. They also learned about resources they can use while their loved ones are deployed.
“I think it is beneficial just knowing that the Soldiers have such a good framework, such a good support system that’s going to be working with the families when they are gone, so they don’t have to worry so much about what’s going on at home. The Army is a family, and that there are people that are there for them,” said 2nd Lt. Jason Pryor from the 307 MP Company.
Deployment can be a daunting time for Soldiers and their families. Through programs like yellow ribbon though, they can network with other families and learn that they are not alone.