357th MP Co. returns from Gitmo
April 17, 2014
FORT BLISS, Texas -- The 357th Military Police Company, from Concord, Calif., U.S. Army Reserve, arrived at the Arrival/Departure Air Control Group, here, April 2, after a deployment in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Sgt. Carla Baron is a human resource specialist with the 357th MP Co. and deployed for the first time in her military career. Baron, a resident of Fresno, Calif., gained valuable knowledge during her deployment and plans to share her experience with fellow human resource specialists back home.
"It was an experience," said Baron. "I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, but going through it, it was a little overwhelming, but at the same time, I didn't realize how important it was until I came back. I accomplished so much within that time span that, honestly, it was a great experience and I wouldn't change anything."
Baron will be returning to her civilian job as an AT&T salesperson upon her arrival back home.
"I called my boss and she is excited that I am coming back," said Baron.
Baron credits her high morale to her family, friends and the Family Readiness Group for sending care packages, especially during the holidays.
"I plan to spend more time with my family when I get home. I kept in touch with everyone through Facebook and I tried calling every week," said Baron. "I made a lot of good life-long friends and that's something that I look forward to, in keeping in touch with them."
Before joining the military, Spc. Raul De La Pena was a chef for eight years and never really saw himself wearing the uniform, much less deploy as a military policeman to Gitmo.
"I thought about (joining) for a long period of time and it was a really hard decision but I'm glad I did it. I now have a sense of pride and it kind of makes me wish that I have done it earlier," said De La Pena. "I look forward to a lot. This deployment has opened another door for me, a career in law enforcement, and I am ready for another deployment. Wherever life leads me."
De La Pena's deployment was a memorable experience, as it was his first, and plans to apply for any police academy that is hiring in his home town of San Jose, Calif.
"Thank you to everyone who was supportive of me, all my family and friends at home and I want to tell my son Bradley that I love him," said De La Pena.
The Soldiers assigned to 357th MP Co. will conduct family reintegration exercises when they get home, thanks to the efforts of the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program and their chain of command, the 324th MP Battalion.
"The main focus is for them to finish their demobilization process here at Fort Bliss. They will go through three more phases of Yellow Ribbon, right along with their spouses and family members," said Command Sgt. Maj. Paul E. Shaw, senior enlisted advisor for the 324th MP Bn.
The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) is a Department of Defense-wide effort to promote the well-being of National Guard and Reserve members, their families and communities, by connecting them with resources throughout the deployment cycle. Through YRRP events, service members and loved ones connect with local resources before, during, and after deployments. Reintegration during post-deployment is a critical time for members of the Guard and Reserve, as they often live far from military installations and members of their units.