By Sgt. 1st Class Alyn-Michael MacleodMarch 14, 2012
HERSHEY PARK, P.A. (March 10, 2012) - Approximately 300 Soldiers and Family members descended upon Hershey Lodge in historic Hershey Park, Pa., to participate in a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Event hosted by the 99th Regional Support Command.
"They are many resources here for them, so I urge them to learn about the benefits, resources and opportunities for them to educate themselves.. when they educate themselves they are educating their families," said Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Castelveter, command sergeant major for the 99th RSC. "Soldiers are truly our family… we preach family on a regular basis; we just can't preach it, we have to talk the talk and walk the walk."
Ensuring that no Soldier is left behind during their mobilization experience, the Secretary of Defense initiated the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program in 2008.
The program 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.
Consisting of seven events that take place at intervals before and after mobilization, the program gives the Soldiers and Family member's information, counseling, skills and techniques for upcoming deployments and re-deployments.
Events 1 and 2 are for Soldiers and their Families at the onset of a deployment. These events assist everyone for the separation. Events 3 and 4 are for family members only and are often used to see how the family is doing and to assist them in planning the Soldier's homecoming.
Events 5,6, and 7 of the program are two-day events that happen 30, 60, and 90 days after the Soldier returns home and is released from active duty, and include information on current benefits and resources available to help overcome the stress and challenges of reintegration.
The 99th RSC host Events 4,5 and 6 on a monthly basis throughout its 13-state area of responsibility.
For Spc. Tyrone Guzman, a native of Clayton, N.C., deployed to Basra, Iraq with the 805th Military Police Company, this was his first experience at Event 4.
"I think they have a lot of good information on reintegrating yourself back into home life with your family and your wife, specifically on communicating," Guzman said. " It helps them understand some of the issues that we might be going through when we get back."
Guzman was also impressed with the amount of employment information that was given out during the event.
"The program gives you a lot of good information for employment, how to look for employment, how to build a resume, how to make yourself look more attractive to the potential employers," Guzman added.
Soldiers from 805th Military Police Company, 443rd Military Police Company, 368th Engineer Battalion, 275th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and 302nd Transportation Company had an opportunity to visit multiple vendors during the event.
Career Link, Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, 99th RSC Strong Bonds Program, Department of Veterans Affairs, Employee Partnership of the Armed Forces, Merrill Lynch, Military One Source, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, GO Army Ed, Devry University, Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Argosy University, South University and Bellevue University were on hand to give out information and answer questions to help Soldiers and Family members.
While all vendors are important, the Army Reserve recovery care coordinator brings something new to the table.
"We assist wounded, ill and injured Soldiers; it can be any illness and injury, it doesn't necessary have to be combat related," explained Debbie Ewert, recovery care coordinator for the Army Reserve.
"Our main focus is TPU Soldiers ... we liaison between them and their units and assist them with a lot of different issues," Ewert said. " Such as line of duties ... We help them understand that they need an approved Line of Duty so they can possibly get medical care from the Military Medical Support Office so it doesn't have to come out of their pocket."
Understanding that every Soldier is different and may have a variety of serious medical issues, the recovery care coordinator assists the Soldier.
"We can also help them with active-duty medical extensions, or maybe something is bad enough that or long enough they need to be put into a Warrior Transition Unit," Ewert explained.
When Soldiers get the word that they have to deploy, the whole family must make sacrifices. However, there is comfort in knowing that they will not be forgotten.
"The families give so much, they sacrifice so much, from the children to the spouses, and all they have to encounter and deal with when our loved ones are deployed.. they are truly the heroes and backbone of our organization and we will not forget them," Castelveter concluded.