NEWS | Sept. 15, 2016

88th RSC Hosts Yellow Ribbon Event for Soldiers, Families

By Zachary Mott 88th Regional Support Command

MINNEAPOLIS – Deployments are a fact of life for anyone who chooses to live the life of a service member. Since the start of the Global War on Terrorism, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines have been deployed to fight that fight.

The Yellow Ribbon Program helps deploying, deployed and re-deploying Soldiers and their families handle the stresses that come with answering the nation’s call. The three-day event offers presentations on topics ranging from medical readiness to financial preparedness as well as a wide range of family concerns and issues.

“It comes down to readiness,” said John Venner, the Yellow Ribbon program manager for the 88th Regional Support Command. “You don’t think of Yellow Ribbon as a combat multiplier. But when you look at the help and the resources that our family members and our Soldiers receive at these events, the knowledge that they get, the leadership, for the first sergeants, commanders and UAs that they receive at these events, they’re able to help and multiply that knowledge across the Army Reserve.”

This event divides Soldiers and families into four groups: pre-deployment, deployment, post-deployment up to 180 days and post-deployment more than 180 days. This ensures Soldiers and families receive the information that is most pertinent to their current situation.

The Yellow Ribbon program has been refined throughout the course of the Global War on Terrorism. Just as the program continues to evolve, so too do the attendees. There are Soldiers and families who have never experienced a deployment before. Events like these remain vitally important to ensure all of the necessary information is provided for those new Soldiers and their families as well as for Soldiers who may be filling different, more challenging leadership roles than they did during previous deployments.

“By polling the crowd to see who shows up and who is here participating, it’s still over two-thirds that this is their first deployment,” said Brig. Gen. Stephen E. Strand, deputy commanding general for the 88th RSC. “This is the first time that that family has been in the process of having to mobilize and deploy as well.”
The multi-pronged approach allows presenters to shape their topics to the needs of a specific group based on a specific phase of the deployment cycle. Venner said the presenters focus on getting post-deployment Soldiers and their families back to “normal.”

“When you come back readjustment and reintegration into your family and society is a process,” he said. “We help them understand what that process feels like and what it should look like and if things aren’t quite within what normal is, maybe it’s time to engage with some other resources.”

For pre-deployment, he said, the concerns are more about what will life be like once the Soldier deploys and how to help Soldiers and their families prepare for that.

With a 19-state region to cover, 88th RSC hosts several Yellow Ribbon events throughout the year at various locations.

“Our units are concentrated in different areas within that 19 state region so we like to engage our customers where they live. It also cuts down on costs and it makes it easier to bring family members in,” Venner said.

The next 88th RSC-sponsored Yellow Ribbon event is scheduled for December 2 to 4 in Minneapolis.