By Mr. Bill Roberts, 99th RSC Public AffairsDecember 2, 2010
SKYTOP, Pa. Oct. 30, 2010 - More than 150 Army Reserve Soldiers came together in the Poconos during the Halloween weekend for a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration event at the Skytop Resort in Pennsylvania.
A far cry from their recent deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, the mountainside setting was bursting with colors from the changing leaves instead of roadside bombs as Soldiers and their loved ones were provided with information and resources to help them settle back into a normal life after their recent deployments.
"I really love the mountains this time of year, so I was looking forward to coming here for the scenery," said Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Anne Iverson, who deployed with the 263rd Quartermaster Company, El Paso, Texas. "I was amazed to find out how many programs there are for us. I hope that everyone who has deployed comes to these events and finds out what is available to them too."
The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, established by Congress in 2008, aims to help Reserve and National Guard members reintegrate with their families, communities and civilian employers.
In an effort to ensure Soldiers have the opportunity to attend Yellow Ribbon events, they are not restricted to the events in their region. Each of the Army Reserve's Regional Support Commands hosts an event every month and, with their commander's approval, Soldiers can attend one anywhere in the country.
"If having a Soldier attend a Yellow Ribbon event in Florida or Pennsylvania instead of their home state gets them connected with the support they deserve, then it is well worth it, said Holly Ball, 99th RSC Yellow Ribbon Program manager. "Many Soldiers don't think they need the program when they first get back."
"It may be 60- to- 90 days before they realize that things aren't going the way they thought they would. The money could run out or they may no longer have a job and they don't know where to turn for help. We are providing them with some solutions here and offering them tools to be more successful in their relationships and their careers. Soldiers and their families have already sacrificed so much throughout their deployment; this is the least we should do to be there for them," she added.
"Yellow Ribbon events like these are important opportunities for Soldiers and their families to take a break from the stresses of home life to redevelop that intimacy again with their family while connecting them with resources to make their reintegration easier," said Col. Dan Ammerman, deputy commanding general, 99th RSC. "This is just one of the ways that we can show how much we care about the Soldiers and their families and we want to provide them with the tools they need whether it be employment, education, counseling or just a chance to spend time together away from home in a casual but supportive environment."
Some of the many events available to those attending the Skytop event included Post- Deployment Health Risk Assessment, Small Group Discussions, Combat Stress Teams, Suicide Prevention, Anger Management, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Finance and Budget Planning, Communication Skills, TRICARE, and Multiple Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI).
Employment briefings from the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center on civilian employment with the Army included resume building and advantages of employment as an Army civilian including briefings on the Mil-Tech program. Other employment-related briefings were available through the Department of Labor and education.
Chaplains from the 99th RSC and recently returned units including the 200th Military Police Command were on hand to provide services and classes while also promoting the Strong Bonds program to Soldiers and their families.
"This has been really great for me as I learn about the Army and how I can support my husband if he deploys again," said Evelyn Demeo who's fiancAfA, Spc. Richard Leandry, 320th Military Police Battalion, just returned from a year-long deployment to Baghdad. "I have learned so much already and having all these classes and people in one place make it so much easier for me to know where to go if I need assistance and what is available for Richard. I know this won't be easy but this has really provided me with a good foundation for our future together."