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June 14, 2013

Yellow Ribbon events go on despite budget cuts

Maj. Todd Riddle, A-10 Warthog pilot, 442d Fighter Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base discusses family relationship issues using a three-legged stool to illustrate how deployments can turn relationships on their head.

Air Force Reserve members and their families from across the command converged on the sea-side town of LaJolla, Calif., for a Yellow Ribbon event held at the local Marriott Hotel.

Similar to previous Yellow Ribbon events, this one provided programs designed for members in both a pre-deployment and post-deployment status. A multitude of resources were available for members and their families serving from home, to promote a strong level of stability.

Opening remarks were provided by Col. Craig Peters, commander, 911th Air Wing, Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station.

The Keynote speaker was Major Todd Riddle, 442d Fighter Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.. He discussed some of the major issues families face when a member is called-up to deploy; he used a 3-legged stool to illustrate important deployment issues that arise and the need to keep them in balance. Peters explained it takes courage to accept that deployments may affect relationships, causing the stool to “stand on its head”.

“We don’t want it that way anymore,” said Peters. “We need to work on getting this stuff fixed and better learn how anticipate the effects the deployment may have. Going through an Air Expeditionary Force deployment is going to cause the stool to be out of balance, so we need to find the best way to level it back out.”

Lt. Col. Stacia Belyeu, 452d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, March Air Reserve Base, attended this event after a deployment to Afghanistan, where she was the commander of the 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Detachment 1. A veteran of three previous deployments, she commanded 50 people this time out, in addition to flight nurse duties.

“This is my first post-deployment Yellow Ribbon event. It’s been very interesting, I’ve met some interesting folks and I think I’ve even recruited someone who I think will become a flight nurse,” said Belyeu. “Ted, my significant other and I have really enjoyed the breakout sessions and the camaraderie and just talking with people. It’s been a very interesting and rewarding event and I really enjoyed it.”

Senior Master Sgt. Jo Carillo, 452d Air Mobility Wing Yellow Ribbon coordinator and aeromedical evacuation technician, 452d AES, has had several different roles during past events and thought this one was very successful and provided a lot of good information.

“For those members who are deploying, they really see the benefit of bringing their families to these events” said Carillo. “It helps the family member be more self-reliant and feel more confident about the time they will be responsible for the household and family situation while the member is away.”

They also exchange telephone numbers with other members at their base for support. They also see these events as a benefit to the children. The interaction they receive here helps them feel more comfortable about the separation, she said.

Post deployment members will benefit from having chaplains, mental health care providers, education and employment recruiters on-hand to speak with; all of these activities help them get reconnected.

“The event staff was well prepared and any issues that arose were quickly resolved without delay to the member. There was a lot of positive feedback to the Yellow Ribbon Staff,” adds Carillo.

According to event officials, 337 servicemembers and their families attended the event that included break-out sessions regarding financial management, re-employment, education benefits, physical fitness and many others.

Since January 2008 more than 1 million Guard and Reserve members and their families have taken advantage of the resources offered during Yellow Ribbon events.

Servicemembers are encouraged to attend Yellow Ribbon events during phases of mobilization; i.e. pre-deployment, during deployment and 30-, 60- and 90-day periods upon return from deployment. Participation must be coordinated through their chain of command.




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