July 12, 2011

U.S. Representative thanks Virginia Guard during reintegration program

By Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen      
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. — U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Virginia, thanked the Soldiers and Airmen of the Virginia National Guard's 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and 192nd Fighter Wing for their sacrifices and commitment to the commonwealth during the first phase of the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program July 9-10 in Norfolk. The 529th CSSB returned to Virginia in March after a year-long deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

 

Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Virginia thanks the Soldiers and Airmen of the Virginia National Guard's 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and 192nd Fighter Wing for their sacrifices and commitment to the commonwealth July 9 in Norfolk during the first phase of the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program. The 529th CSSB returned to Virginia in March after a year-long deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

“I can think of no better place for me to start my Saturday, then among patriots; men and women who are willing to sacrifice and set aside a year of their life to the freedom that we enjoy, so thank you,” said Rigell, U.S. representative of Virginia’s 2nd District. “It is a great honor to be here.”

Paraphrasing former U.S. President, Ronald Reagan, Rigell spoke to the Soldiers and Airmen about the importance in defending our nation’s freedom today, so they may pass on those freedoms to the next generation of Americans.

“Because of what you have done in the year that you spent away from your families, you have met your obligation to the next generation of Americans. We are a safer country because you were willing to set aside a year of your life,” he said.

The weekend event was comprised of a series of briefings and presentations from various vendors and motivational speakers, designed to assist the Soldiers and Airmen to reconnect with their families and civilian careers and goals. Information booths were set up by the various visitors to provide information to the Guard men and women on finances, education, health care, veterans’ services and counseling services available to them.

“This is a great opportunity for the Soldiers and their families to get many resources in one place that the local community, state, and federal entities are providing for us,” said Lt. Col. Michelle Rose, 529th commander. “This program from the National Guard is put in place to ease our return to civilian life, but it also enhances our family and personal experience in this process.”

In addition to helping the Soldiers and Airmen, the weekend was also about recognizing the sacrifices and hard work the family members endured in their loved one’s stead.

“We worked many long hours, had a tough deployment, and we were successful in our mission, but the family members here are the ones who really did the hard work,” said Rose. “They’re the ones who put up with all of the things that we usually do when we are home and their job too as a mom, dad, grandmother, spouse or whatever the case may be.”

 

Lt Col. Michelle Rose, Commander of the 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, addresses the Soldiers and family members of the 529th during the first phase of the Yellow Ribbon reintegration program in Norfolk July 9. The Soldiers of the 529th managed more than $24.6 million in contracts for food service, water purification, fuel retail operations, Supply Support Activity, container and cargo management, and transportation operations for Shindand Air Base and managed seven construction projects worth $4.8 million for the expansion of the base's logistical support capability and quality of life while serving in Afghanistan. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

The 529th returned to Virginia over the course of several days from March 21-24 after having served on federal active duty in Afghanistan since May 2010. The 529th  operated from the remote forward operating base at Shindand Air Base, Regional Command - West in Afghanistan where they pioneered logistical support operations as the first U.S. combat support battalion to locate in the area and conduct operations. The battalion was responsible for building an expeditionary life support complex and infrastructure for the entire airbase while providing seamless sustainment operations for supported units as well as helping improve quality of life and promoting economic development in local Afghan communities.

Working directly with Italian, Spanish, Slovenian and Afghan forces, the unit’s mission was to provide supply, maintenance and transportation support to U.S. and coalition war fighters throughout the region that covers the four large western provinces of Herat, Farah, Badghis and Ghor.

The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is a congressionally funded program consisting of informational events and activities for Reserve Component members, families, and community members to assist in the transition from Soldier to citizen.

It is designed to follow the service member throughout the deployment cycle, including pre-deployment, during the deployment and post deployment. The program’s intent is to ensure Soldiers and families are better off after deployment than they were before deployment.

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