By Maj. Bob Hart, 3d Medical Command (Deployment Support) Public Affairs OfficeMarch 20, 2009
Increasing demands on Soldiers in the Global War on Terror are placing increasing stresses on the Families of those deployed Soldiers.
To help alleviate those stresses, the 3d Medical Command (Deployment Support) (MEDCOM) Family Readi-ness team organized phase 3 of the Army\'s Yellow Ribbon Campaign. The meeting was held March 7 at the Mariott Hotel, near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Phase 3 helps Soldiers and their Families transition from a deployment back into a more-normal family environment.
The secretary of defense initiated the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program - which has seven phases, from alert to post-deployment - to prepare Soldiers and their Families for mobilization, sustain Families during mobilization and reintegrate Soldiers with their Families, communities and employers when they return home.
"This was our first phase 3 event and I think it was a huge success," said Anthony Cooper, family programs coordinator for 3d MEDCOM. "We really wanted to get more participation, but there were a lot of obstacles, including travel, that kept more people from attending."
One of those attending was Rose Wilson, of Kingston, N.Y., whose husband, Staff Sgt. Robert Wilson, is with the 1st Forward Surgical Team.
"What I'm trying to do is to fill in the blanks," Wilson said. "Being a Reserve family, we're sometimes out of the military loop as far as knowing what is available and where to go to get help. This event has certainly helped me to find those missing pieces."
The family members attending represented a cross-section of the geographically dispersed downtrace units of 3d MEDCOM. The distances traveled, however, presented one of the major obstacles for conference attendees.
"Some of the families had to wait in the airport for more than four hours," Cooper said. "There were some issues on travel that no one could have foreseen until the family arrived at the airport, but hopefully we will be able to fix those issues.
"The perseverance displayed by the families and their willingness to over come the obstacles is a prefect example of how much this training is needed and how much the families appreciate it."