Families of deployed CBRNE Soldiers have a place to connect

After months of planning, building and interior decorating, the 20th Support Command (CBRNE) Yellow Ribbon Room finally opened for business on April 21 in the command headquarters in the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Family Readiness Centers have been a fixture for deploying units during the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but the CBRNE Yellow Ribbon Room is different from others. Unlike most FRCs around the country that are dedicated to entire installations, the CBRNE Command's Yellow Ribbon Room is especially for the Families of Soldiers who are countering CBRNE threats and defeating all types of improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan everyday to keep the their fellow Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines and the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan safe.

"While most larger installations now have a Family readiness center used by all units on the installation, members of the 20th SUPCOM (CBRNE) felt the need to design a Yellow Ribbon Room to provide a specified place for Family members who may need more direct support," said Sharon Chapman, the organization's Family readiness support assistant. "Members of the 20th SUPCOM felt the need for a place that would also provide a designated working space for their FRG volunteers. The FRG staff at the 20th SUPCOM (CBRNE) now has a place to maintain rosters, work on the FRG newsletter and even make morale calls to the Families of deployed Soldiers."

Having the CBRNE Yellow Ribbon room is important to the Families of the unit and meaningful to the Command, she added.

"The CBRNE Yellow Ribbon Room is an important part of the command's commitment to readiness and support of the Soldiers and Families," Chapman said. "When our Soldiers and Families have a designated area to e-mail, webcam, and stay in touch with loved ones, it provides stronger Family bonds between moms, dads, sisters and brothers. It allows those that do not have Internet services at home a place to connect. It's a room to get referral services and find out what is happening around the APG community. It's a place for our volunteers to connect and work on newsletters and make morale calls. It's a room that's about providing better support services, connections and communications."

The entire FRG staff was on hand at the grand opening of the CBRNE Yellow Ribbon Room.

"Finally getting the CBRNE Yellow Room open is a great thing," said Lisa Snow, an FRG advisor and wife of 20th SUPCOM commander Brig. Gen. Jeffrey J. Snow. "It has really been a long time coming. Everybody has worked really hard for this."

The mood of the FRG staff was mostly hopeful at the grand opening.

"I hope that members can use the room to contact Family members who may be deployed," said Liz Blakely, FRG lead coordinator. "I hope that the Family members who have deployed Family members use the room [so they] can relax."

Family Readiness Group staffers will be on hand to offer assistance for linking services offered to Families. Among these staffers, the Family readiness support assistant plays a crucial role in supporting the CBRNE Yellow Ribbon Room.

"The FRSA is here to provide the Families resources, community referrals and assist the command with various needs during the deployment cycle to support the Families," Chapman said.
The CBRNE Yellow Ribbon Room has state-of-the-art equipment available.

"The CBRNE Yellow Ribbon Room is equipped with all of the latest technology to help Family members of deployed service members keep in touch," Chapman said. "There are two computers with Internet service and webcams that Soldiers and Family members can use, at no cost to them, to remain in contact with their deployed Soldiers. The computers also come equipped with webcams that are set up as a kiosk, so no CAC cards are needed. The Yellow Ribbon Room also has a TV, DVD player, fax machine, printer, VCR and many other resource materials and support information for the Families."

The CBRNE Yellow Ribbon Room also accommodates the children of deployed Soldiers.

"Since most of the Families and FRG volunteers have children who will be using the Yellow Ribbon Room, there is a video library and activities for the children who come in with their mom or dad," Chapman said. "The children's videos are there to help children understand deployments better.

"The 20th SUPCOM (CBRNE) has a deep commitment in making sure the Families are provided the support they need and look forward to all the interaction the Yellow Ribbon Room will bring to the Families of the 20th SUPCOM (CBRNE)," she said.