SAN ANTONIO - Thousands of Warrior-Citizens within the Army Reserve have deployed overseas in support of the Global War on Terrorism and many have deployed for multiple tours. Although the Soldiers take great pride in their service to this great nation, these deployments have nonetheless put a great deal of stress on both the Soldier and their Families. And for this reason the Secretary of Defense initiated the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program in 2008 which provides information, services, referral, and proactive outreach programs through all phases of the deployment cycle.

The 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, which began in April 2010, hosted their largest Yellow Ribbon Event this weekend on September 11 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown San Antonio. The 4th ESC Yellow Ribbon offered events 1 through 4, of the seven events that must be completed, during Saturday's event.

Approximately 765 Soldiers and Family members that attended the event came from across Texas and Oklahoma; units include the 238th Ordinance Company, 370th Transportation Company, 647th Regional Support Group, and 481st Transportation Company.

The goal of the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is to prepare Soldiers and Families for mobilization, sustain Families during mobilization, and reintegrate Soldiers with their Families, communities, and employers upon redeployment. They have access to information on issues such as health care, education/training opportunities, financial, and legal benefits. Many vendors also attend such events to provide additional information and assistance. Some of the vendors at this weekend's event included USAA, Red Cross, University of Phoenix, Military and Army One Source, Warrior Family Assistance Center, Operation Home Front and VA Texas Vets.

"Before this it was just the Soldier that received information before and after deployments but the family members were not always included," said Spec. Joel Perez, 4th ESC Yellow Ribbon. "But now with this new program in place the family members become a part of the process."

Often the deploying Soldier's primary focus tends to be on things such as training rather than the matters that family member may need to know like what benefits are available like child care, insurance and education.

"There were a lot of great responses from the family members," said Sgt. 1st Class Ramiro Barajas Jr., 4th ESC Yellow Ribbon. "The families were able to leave with great information and any point of contacts they may need."

The National Guard and Reserve differ from the Active Duty component in the way the service members are prepared. Since many are geographically separated from other members of their units, addressing the unique needs is often a challenge and the Yellow Ribbon program and its team members has made it their mission to address and respond to the challenges.

Page last updated Fri September 17th, 2010 at 15:47