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NEWS | Aug. 4, 2016

U.S. Army Reserve Family Programs integral part of deployment process for Soldiers, Families

By Sgt. Christina Dion 319th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

FALLS CHURCH, Va. – Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey has stressed over the past couple years that unit and individual Soldier readiness is not only a priority, but a necessity in today’s Army. One way the U.S. Army Reserve Family Programs contributes to readiness is through the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program. 

Yellow Ribbon, a Department of Defense effort, promotes Soldiers and families by connecting them to community partners and with resources throughout the deployment cycle. This effort is vital to readiness, said Brig. Gen. José R. Burgos, deputy commanding general of the 99th Regional Support Command headquartered at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. 

More than 300 Soldiers and Family members attended the Yellow Ribbon event June 10-12 at the Westin Tysons Corner Hotel to learn about Veteran’s Affairs benefits, Tricare information, and legal assistance, as well as participate in classes and workshops that focused on communication and the reintegration process.

Since 2008 when the National Defense Authorization Act established the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, units from all over the U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard have been striving to make each event better than the last, said Cheryl Davis, 99th RSC Family Programs director. Although Family Programs does not own the Yellow Ribbon Program, those working with Yellow Ribbon support the program and assist with coordinating speakers and support services. 

Some attendees have noticed the effort. Staff Sgt. Jacob Davis, a military police officer with the Military Intelligence Readiness Command, and his wife Lindsay said they appreciate all that’s gone into making the event more helpful than ones they’ve attended in the past.  

Davis, a Richmond resident who deployed to Cuba with the 88th Military Police Company out of Fort Eustis, Virginia, has deployed three times. This was a first for his new wife, though.

Lindsay attended the pre-deployment event in El Paso, Texas, where he was doing his pre-deployment training, she said. 

“I had done a lot of research on my own, so I had a lot of the information already, but it was at the very least nice to meet the other families that were also going to go through this,” she said. “I wish we had that experience sooner so we could have exchanged information sooner.” 

“But, with this specific Yellow Ribbon, it has been exceptionally better in organization, scheduling, the information being provided,” she said. “While I still think it’s similar to what we’ve heard before, it’s been presented in different ways. Mr. William Freeman was excellent in his communications class.” 

Both Lindsay and Jacob enjoyed Chap. (Lt. Col.) William Steen’s class and said he was terrific.“His perspective and his ability to humble himself enough to say that even as a chaplain he had significant issues coming back from his first deployment … it made me feel better about the difficulties and challenges that we had faced.” 

Although Lindsay said she and her husband thought the issues they were dealing with were really big at the time, they both said the chaplain put a perspective on it to help them understand that the issues weren’t as big as they thought. 

Lindsay added that the individual who spoke on resiliency put a different perspective on the material as well.
“Although the activities seemed really unusual to draw pictures on the back of the paper, and do a little quiz to test your own resiliency, it brought forth a lot of ‘ah-ha’ moments, which are always positive,” she said. 
“These events are vital. Not just for the Soldier, but for those of us at home navigating the challenges. If it weren’t for programs like this, we wouldn’t know where to start or where to go,” said Lindsay. 
Overall, both Jacob and Lindsay said that they really enjoyed the Yellow Ribbon event and the program is important to their family to successfully get through all of the cycles of deployments. Jacob said this is why the program is so important to unit and Soldier readiness.