Army unit's families connect during deployment with the Yellow Ribbon Program
By Sgt. 1st Class Darrin McDuffordOctober 30, 2013
BROOKFIELD, Wis. - The 372nd Engineer Company stationed near Brookfield, Wis., held a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program Phase 2 during deployment event for nearly 100 of its families and for families of soldiers who are deployed and connected to the unit.
It is four months into a nine-month deployment and the soldiers are off over there doing their jobs that require them to be focused with long days keeping them busy and distracted. The families meanwhile are at home missing their soldiers.
Technology today helps bide time but getting an email or video messaging just doesn't cut it. The family has needs and sometimes problems come up that the soldier just can't handle.
The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is there to assist soldiers and families during a deployment with information, resources and to mitigate stressors of an extended mobilization.
Each unit has a family support group that works with the YRRP during the four deployment stages (pre-deployment, deployment, demobilization and post-deployment). The program is also there for the family while it gets by without their soldier during the deployment.
According to Warrant Officer 1 Matt Hall, rear detachment commander, "The responsibility here is to integrate families and handle key functions of the forward unit."
"Here we assist soldier and family with logistics, support and family readiness," Hall adds.
There are many resources the Yellow Ribbon partners with to assist the families at home. These sources are Military OneSource, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, Small Business Administration, Veterans Affairs and others. The collaboration provides information and interactive seminars and resources that are relevant to the families and their soldiers.
Tying together the information and resources is a skillful and time consuming task. The family readiness coordinator is tasked with this almost intense responsibility.
"The purpose of the family readiness group is to increase communication between the command, families and soldier. Soldiers don't do such a good job informing the family and doesn't often communicate family needs," said Karla Dishaw, Family Readiness Group Leader for the 372nd Engineer Company.
She adds, "Situations can be difficult when divorces are involved and family relationships create barriers."
The day is to stem the growth of problems, miscommunication and promote the benefits these families are entitled to, said Dishaw.
Nichole Reichert, the wife of the 372nd Engineer Company's commander, Capt. Robert Reichert, is no stranger to deployments. In their seven-and-a-half year marriage, this is their third deployment.
"I'm no more relaxed when he deploys but I expect the process. In 2008, we moved and were getting settled and he gets notification of the deployment. It threw our life into disorder," Reichert said.
This experience has taught her the need for these Yellow Ribbon events.
"I am and advocate for the Yellow Ribbon Program. It's beneficial for the Family and Soldier," said Reichert.
Sara Bloechl, the wife of Staff Sgt. John Bloechl, who works within the 372nd Engineer Company's supply section and hails from Greenfield, Wis., said, "The Yellow Ribbon Program is a way to connect with real people who experience similar situations and issues."
"This experience validates that I'm not done but I have discussions with peers. This is his second deployment and we have face-to-face discussions on video messaging now that we didn't before. I can recommend that more families communicate with their spouses and connect with their soldier," said Bloechl.
The underlying theme of the Deployment phase of the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program seems to be communication.
Bloechl adds, "It's outside support from family, work and friends that pulls all this training together for more interaction."
"We are better prepared with this deployment. The Yellow Ribbon connects us," said Bloechl.