Yellow Ribbon Program Reconnects Families

Joseph Westphal 428x285

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal visited Soldiers and their families, Sept. 8, 2012, at an Army Reserve Yellow Ribbon Program event in Kansas City, Mo.

During his stay, Westphal met with some of the 700 participants and their children and stressed the Army's commitment to helping with transitional issues surrounding deployment.

The Soldiers are assigned to Army Reserve units from across the United States and attended the event because they recently returned from a deployment or are preparing to deploy overseas. The Yellow Ribbon Program is family focused and designed to strengthen and reconnect servicemembers and their families.

The event was hosted by the Army Reserve's 88th Regional Support Command based at Fort McCoy, Wis. The 88th RSC has been hosting these monthly events since 2009 for Army Reserve Soldiers and other reserve-component service members. The 88th RSC, one of the four RSCs in the Army Reserve, provides base operations support for a 19-state region from Ohio to the Pacific coast, and from Kansas to the Canadian border.

The reintegration training phase focused on combat stress, marriage and parental counseling, and employment assistance. In addition, community service partners were on site to educate Soldiers and families on the benefits and resources available to them in order to overcome the challenges that lay ahead.

Westphal listened to the concerns of families struggling with post-deployment issues and pledged the Army's continuing support for the program.

"Soldiers and families make incredible sacrifices to protect our nation and the Army has an enduring commitment to giving you the resources and tools you deserve to successfully reintegrate back into your personal and professional lives," he said. "The Yellow Ribbon Program is testament to this never-ending commitment to our Soldiers and their families. I applaud the contributions of the U.S. Army Reserve and thank you for your critical role as we reshape the Army of 2020."

The Yellow Ribbon Program began more than five years ago through the National Defense Authorization Act and it has benefited tens of thousands of service members from all branches of the military. This program assists in dealing with prevention of suicide, domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse and other interruptive areas that impact the health of the force.

Brig. Gen. Alton G. Berry, commander of the 88th RSC, also attended the event and highlighted the unique nature of the program.

"We want to provide structure to this event but do it in a relaxed, approachable way," Berry said. "Participants don't wear uniforms. There is social programming, and it takes place at a hotel away from any military installation. We want these families to have introspection but also an opportunity to relax and reconnect with one another. The focus is on the family under the Army's umbrella for control and support."

Sgt. Daniel C. Olsen, a paralegal noncommissioned officer with the 530th Military Police Battalion from Omaha, Neb., deployed on his second overseas tour to Afghanistan last year. Olsen attended the event with his girlfriend, Jade Bruns.

"This program helped me understand the problems and issues he was dealing with," said Bruns, "that he just could not seem to explain."

Olsen echoed that sentiment, "The resources offered, from the content of the sessions to the booths outside the sessions, were very valuable. I think it helped both of us to understand some of the difficulties families face after going through a deployment."

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