By Sgt. 1st Class Mark BellJuly 12, 2014
CHERRY HILL, N.J. -- For one 19-year-old Army Reserve Soldier scheduled to deploy to Guantanamo Bay Cuba this summer, the decision to invite his parents to a 200th Military Police Command Yellow Ribbon event was simple.
"My parents were uneasy about my deployment, and I wanted them to feel better about the whole thing," said Pfc. Kurt Wells, a military police Soldier from Catasauqua, Pennsylvania.
Wells, who is assigned to the 361st Military Police Company, based in Ashley, Pennsylvania, sat next to his mother Trish and his father Ross as they took notes during a briefing on legal rights of Soldiers mobilized during a Yellow Ribbon event held July 12-13 here.
"This is a great program that really opened our eyes on the resources in the Army Reserve," said Trish. "I think it's great we are able to be here with Kurt. They really make us feel like we are part of the Army Reserve family."
Wells joined the Army Reserve in January 2014 and currently enrolled at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania but will put his Criminal Justice degree on hold while he deploys to Cuba in support of military police operations.
Ross Wells said when his son joined the Army Reserve he was very proud of him for a decision that would change the Wells family lives forever.
"He made the decision on his own, and we support him," he said. "As a parent, we only want what is best for our children, and the Army Reserve is a great start to his life after high school."
Trish Wells said she has always new her son would join the military and it was just a matter of time her son graduating high school.
"I've always know he would be in the Army since he was three," she said laughing.
Fast-forward 16 years and on the verge of a new chapter in their lives; the three sat side-by-side learning about how to be successful during a deployment and separation. With informational pamphlets covering the large round table, Trish Wells said the amount of information given to the families is unbelievable.
"This is so much information to digest," she said. "It's going to take some time to get through this information. We want what is best for Kurt and we see now that the Army Reserve comes here with a vast amount of information and resources for their families. It's a great program for families."
Trish Wells said parents should be involved in their sons, or daughters' military careers.
"As parents, we are looking from the outside, but after today, we realize that we don't have to be outside but rather next to our son who is going through this difficult situation," she said while she placed one hand on her son's shoulder.
The Wells family was not alone, as more than a dozen other parents sat with their sons or daughters during the briefings and talked with professionals at the informational booths.
Capt. Marie Black, the 200th MPCOM Yellow Ribbon officer-in-charge, said she was happy to see parents are attending the weekend events.
"The Army Reserve family doesn't stop with the Soldier," she said. "Our Army Reserve family includes parents, siblings, grandparents and friends. Anyone in their circle is in our circle now."
Black said it is extremely important for young Soldiers to be communicating to their parents about everything Army Reserve.
"Parents have raised our Soldiers to be young men and women they are today," she said. "It's a great choice anytime we see Soldiers walking into our Yellow Ribbon events with their parents. Moms and dads will ensure their Soldiers have the right information and remind them of the resources available to them."
Many of those same resources are available to the parents, she added.
"We must never forget the parents and unit family readiness groups should be including parents into their programs," she said. "They, themselves, bring so much more to the FRG meetings."
Black said many of the young Army Reserve families don't have the experience to make good decisions. She said having parents involved into FRG is important to mission success.
"When you have a young parent left behind, they may need a mentor or someone to call and ask advice," she said. "They have life experiences they can share with our young military families. Those experiences are good and bad, but working through them with someone can be extremely helpful."
As the Wells family took a break for lunch, they continued to talk about the information they learned and how that information could be used to make the mobilization easier on Trish, Ross and Kurt.