By Sgt. 1st Class Alyn-Michael Macleod, 99th Regional Support Public AffairsMarch 7, 2011
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., Feb. 26, 2011 -- Army Reserve Ambassador Alan V. Davis spoke with more than 400 Soldiers and family members at the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, N.J., during a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Event, hosted by the 99th Regional Support Command.
"Going to war, training, deploying, executing a mission in a war is a transformative event," said Davis, a retired brigadier general who has seen time on the ground in Vietnam and has more than 32 years of combined active and Army Reserve service.
Davis knows how these events alter Soldiers, and went on to explain that a deployment is life-changing, "not only for you the Soldier, but for you your family."
"One of the purposes here today is to now prepare you, as we say, to reintegrate you back from that experience into America as you find it today," he continued.
One of the ways this process is accomplished is through the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program.
The program, which the Secretary of Defense initiated in 2008, provides information, services, referral, and proactive outreach programs to Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen in the Reserve Component and their families through all phases of the deployment cycle.
The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program consists of seven events that take place at intervals before and after mobilization, which give the Soldiers and family members information, counseling, skills and techniques for upcoming deployments and re-deployments.
Any deployment or mobilization that takes a Soldier away from their home has an impact on their life that can present issues.
"When society puts Soldiers into war, they have always had challenges with what to do with those Soldiers and how to handle them and what their experiences are like after they return," Davis explained.
Davis went on and compared the Iliad and the Odyssey to illustrate how warriors from the past and the present share the same struggles and challenges.
"If you strip away all of the fantasy parts of it, it deals with the theme that war veterans return," he stated.
The reality of a time for reintegration and resources available to Soldiers is something that cannot be measured accurately because each Soldier's experience is different.
Soldiers train up to two years in preparation for their deployments, and in those two years they and their families go through significant transformations as they prepare for time apart.
"If it takes two years for you to prepare, how long do you think it should take you to reintegrate back into society'" asked Davis. "It's not going to happen in 90 days."
"Our great nation is providing you with a lot of resources to help you," he continued. "Don't be impatient. Take the time to work through the issues, understand what you have gone through, understand that you are different, more importantly your family is different."
Reintegration when Soldiers return takes teamwork from everyone.
"War is won by small cohesive teams who look out for each other that are highly proficient and well trained," he explained. "Integration is a team sport. It's a team of your family, your battle buddies, your fellow veterans, and other peers. Use that team!"
Recalling his own experiences, Davis urged everyone to communicate.
"Talk about your experiences. Talk, share, communicate, even through the people and audiences you are talking to may not understand or comprehend. It gives you a sense of therapy and will help you through this," he said.
"You stand out from America and other Americans because of where you have been, who you are, and the great Soldiers that you are," explained Davis. "You are unique individuals. Each of you is a hero in your own way."