Oct. 7 , 2010

Yellow Ribbon Program prepares 29th ID Soldiers, families for deployment 

By Maj. Wes Parmer
29th Infantry Division Public Affairs        

FORT BELVOIR, Va. — Mobilizing Soldiers of the 29th Infantry Division gathered with their families for a pre-deployment Yellow Ribbon event on Oct 3. 


Maj. Gen. Frank E. Batts, Sr., 29th Infantry Division commander, speaks to Soldiers and family members of the 29th Infantry Division on the importance of the Yellow Ribbon Program to families. (Photo by Maj. Wes Parmer, 29th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

This event marked the first Yellow Ribbon opportunity for the Virginia and Maryland Soldiers deploying to Afghanistan this fall. There are additional events scheduled for during the deployment and several more for Soldiers and families after the mobilization period, to assist with the reintegration of Soldiers back into civilian and family life. 

The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program provides information, services, referrals and outreach programs to Service members of the National Guard and Reserves and their families through all phases of a deployment. 

The pre-deployment event was designed to provide Service members and their families with all the information they will need to cope with the difficulties of extended separation and deployment.  Specific briefings were given on the subjects of Family communication, TriCare medical benefits, legal considerations, Family Readiness Group, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve and financial preparedness.

Another session during the event included a workshop titled “Battlemind for the Spouse”, a session where couples discuss the effects of military deployments and what actions families can take to reduce the stress and impact of the separation. 

Maj. Nat Williams, Virginia Yellow Ribbon Program manager, opened the event with an introduction and welcome to Soldiers and families.

“Our goal with the Yellow Ribbon Program is to build resiliency here and populate it throughout the process,” said Williams.

Maj. Gen. Frank E. Batts, Sr., 29th Infantry Division commander, spoke briefly to the group, sharing his thoughts on the importance of the Yellow Ribbon Program to families of the 29th Infantry Division.

“We recognize the sacrifices that our Soldiers and families are making by continuing to serve,” said Batts. “This program is designed to help minimize this impact and provide resources for Soldiers and their family members.”

The event included children’s activities with three separate groups to suit various age categories of children attending the event. Activities included arts and crafts, group events, and a t-shirt design station where children could customize their own new t-shirt.

Additional resources available at the event included a host of representatives from local educational institutions to provide information on college grants and vouchers for afterschool and camp activities for children.

The next phase in the Yellow Ribbon Program includes a family-only event that will be held prior to the Soldiers’ return from mobilization. This session will provide information to help families continue to cope with the separation and begin the process of reunion for when their loved one returns.

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