Yellow Ribbon Program is integral to reintegration
By Sgt. 1st Class Corey BealSeptember 18, 2013
ROSEMONT, Ill. - The 88th Regional Support Command hosted more than 400 deploying and recently re-deployed Army Reserve soldiers and their family members at a Yellow Ribbon Event in Rosemont, Ill., Sept. 13-15.
The purpose of the event and the entire Yellow Ribbon Program is to provide soldiers and their families with information, services, referrals, and outreach opportunities throughout the entire deployment cycle.
Bryan Taylor, director of the 88th RSC Yellow Ribbon Program, said one of the most important things accomplished through these events is providing information and physically connecting soldiers and families with real resources.
"As soldiers come back from deployment and return to their communities - it's easy to just say the information is out there on the web, but by coming to a Yellow Ribbon event they get face to face contact with actual service providers," said Taylor. "In addition to that, we provide real contacts, websites and 1-800 numbers so they know they are not alone once they go back to the house."
Brig. Gen. Alton G. Berry, deputy commanding general of the 88th RSC, attended the event to reinforce the importance of the training and ensure the training met the needs of the participating soldiers and families.
Berry said the mobilization mission is not complete until the training gap has been filled - and that is exactly what Yellow Ribbon events do.
"Soldiers who have been mobilized before may think they can gain nothing from these events, but I urge them to not take any of this for granted," said Berry. "This is a training event and there is always an opportunity to learn something new."
The blocks of training offered ranged on everything from coping with deployment to the effects and costs of alcohol abuse.
Participants also received briefs from experts on the multiple benefits and entitlements available to them.
In addition to the training, more than 40 Yellow Ribbon Community Partners were on hand to offer assistance and information to participants. These included representatives of multiple military resources as well as employers, colleges and Army Reserve Ambassadors.
Taylor said it is important to remember while the soldiers and Spouses are going through training - so are their children.
"We have a fully integrated children's program," said Taylor. "It is not a day care - it is not an art festival, but they sit down and actually meet with professional instructors and counselors and talk about their role in the deployment."
In addition to the training, the children are also recognized for their service and sacrifices at a special ceremony where they are presented True Patriot Certificates.
Berry said making children part of the event and recognizing them is absolutely necessary.
"The children have a purpose here. They do get their fun time, but they also get training and are recognized for their actions," said Berry. "This lets the parents know the kids have done what was asked of them, plus any time you can recognize a kid - it has value."
First Lt. Brice Bennett, who recently returned from deployment to Afghanistan as chaplain of the 384th Military Police Battalion, attended the event with his wife Melissa and three children.
In addition to the training offered to him and his family, Bennett said he was grateful for the chance to reconnect with the soldiers he deployed with.
As a military spouse, Melissa said these events were critical for any Army Reserve family.
"Yellow Ribbon is absolutely integral to Army Reserve families," said Melissa. "Otherwise the families are left out of almost everything and we don't have any way to connect and know what's going on."
*Learn more about the Yellow Ribbon Program and upcoming events by visiting www.yellowribbon.mil/