313th MCB preparing to move again with Yellow Ribbon event

By Capt. Sean Delpech | 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command | May 23, 2016

May 21, 2016 — TYSONS CORNER, Va. – More than 50 Soldiers and Families of the Army Reserve’s 313th Movement Control Battalion, headquartered in Baltimore, Md., began preparation for their upcoming deployment by attending a combined Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) event with Soldiers from the 200th Military Police Command, the 335th Signal Command (Theater), and the Military Intelligence Readiness Command, held at the Sheraton Hotel in Tyson’s Corner, Va., May 6 – 8, 2016.

The lengthy separation brought on by overseas deployments requires assistance for Army Reserve Families and Soldiers like those in the 313th MCB to cope with.

Alvina U. Smith, event coordinator with the USARC Yellow Ribbon Mobile Training Team, said, “we provide resources and make sure the Soldiers who are deploying, and their Family-members, are ready for that deployment.”

“We provide a pathway for our Army Reserve Families to utilize resources such as Tricare and Military One-Source; these programs that can help take care of them while their Soldier is away,” said Smith.
The YRRP was a joint service program created in 2008 by the Secretary of Defense, at the directive of the U.S. Congress, in response to the unique challenges facing the Reserve Component community during the mobilization, deployment, and demobilization process.

The YRRP provides service members and their Families information and support during all phases of the deployment process.

“The Yellow Ribbon is such a great tool to get the message out about services that we might miss without it,” said Capt. Frederick J. Shear, the human resources officer for the 313th Movement Control Battalion, and also one of the Soldiers participating in the Yellow Ribbon event, in anticipation for deployment.

“There are so many services out there that Soldiers, and even leaders don’t know about,” continued Shear, “it’s a great educational and informational source, not just for the younger Soldiers preparing for deployment, but also for those experienced Soldiers, and those in the unit who will be supporting them.”

“The biggest takeaway from this event is that you are never alone,” said Shear, “there’s either someone else who is dealing with what you’re going through, or there’s resources available to help you deal with the issue that you may have.”

“The information available at the Yellow Ribbon events is very important because a deployment disrupts Soldiers’ lives,” continued Shear, “No matter how much you prepare for it, you are involved in something that requires numerous life changes, and Yellow Ribbon has become an integral piece in planning for those changes.”

While active component service members have all of these resources available to them on base when they deploy, service members in the Reserve component are a special case, in that those resources have to be brought to the Soldier and their Family.

“The Yellow Ribbon Program offers a venue where all of these resources can be brought together in one place to equalize the process between our Reserve and Active Component support systems,” said Smith, “Here we have between 20 to 40 community partners, including Tricare, Family Programs, several different colleges, and other service member resources,” continued Smith.

The purpose of the YRRP event-assistance to Army Reserve Families- was reinforced at the very beginning of the Yellow Ribbon event for all of the participants, as childcare was coordinated so that Soldiers and their spouses could focus on the informational classes and services provided.

“There is a wealth of knowledge here, like in the general session there is a plethora of Army Reserve partners that provide information that will help Family members deal with the stressors of deployment,” said Command Sgt. Major Sonja A. Brewer, the senior enlisted advisor for the 55th Sustainment Brigade, “so it’s really important that they’re here to interact with one another and begin building those relationships, so they know which Family members can help them provide support, as well as get all the information available.”

Experts were on hand at the Yellow Ribbon event to speak on subjects such as finance counseling, Tricare, education, mental health counseling, chaplain and religious services, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), legal rights, and other resources that are available during and after deployments.

The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is carried out in four key phases. Phase one is completed predeployment. Phase two, for Army Reserve Families and loved ones, takes place during deployment. Phase three and four take place up to 180 days and between 180 days and 365 days after returning from deployment, respectively.

“I’ve had the privilege of observing and participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program as it was conducted in both the smaller and larger groups,” said Brewer.

“This one is a combined event that has all four levels of the program included,” continued Brewer, “so it provides an advantage for our Soldiers and Families in level one of Yellow Ribbon, because they have the opportunity to talk to and interact with a Family member who is participating while their Soldier is currently away deployed, and who can share useful information and maybe lend a guiding hand.”