New Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program helps military and families with deployments

Service members and their families collect information at the 452nd Force Support Squadron booth at the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program held in the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel last weekend. Booth visitors learned about free child care during UTA weekends, complimentary tickets to SeaWorld and Disneyland and other R&R activities that the unit offers. About a dozen vendors briefed attendees on veterans’ benefits, TRICARE, The Soldiers Project, Military OneSource, Military and Family Life Consultant Program and Army Reserve Family Programs. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Erfe)

Service members and their families collect information at the 452nd Force Support Squadron booth at the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program held in the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel last weekend. Booth visitors learned about free child care during UTA weekends, complimentary tickets to SeaWorld and Disneyland and other R&R activities that the unit offers. About a dozen vendors briefed attendees on veterans’ benefits, TRICARE, The Soldiers Project, Military OneSource, Military and Family Life Consultant Program and Army Reserve Family Programs. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Erfe)

Yellow Ribbon attendees listen to a TRICARE briefing on the benefits of enrolling in the TRICARE Standard, Extra, Prime or Reserve Select programs. Not planning for health care can eat away your savings and could possibly leave you uninsurable, according to briefer Wendy Pritt. Other briefers discussed how to protect your identity, how to obtain a job in this tight economy, marriage and family resources, wills and powers of attorney, Homeowner’s Assistance Program and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Erfe)

Yellow Ribbon attendees listen to a TRICARE briefing on the benefits of enrolling in the TRICARE Standard, Extra, Prime or Reserve Select programs. Not planning for health care can eat away your savings and could possibly leave you uninsurable, according to briefer Wendy Pritt. Other briefers discussed how to protect your identity, how to obtain a job in this tight economy, marriage and family resources, wills and powers of attorney, Homeowner’s Assistance Program and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Erfe)

The younger family members forgot about their parents as they became absorbed in a variety of activities at the child care center. The teens battled each other with Wii video games of tennis, bowling and baseball. The school age children enjoyed arts and crafts, watching “Ice Age,” searching for buried treasure as pirates, sack races and assorted board games. The infants took pleasure in the individual attention and the multi-sensory toys. (U. S. Air Force photos by Tech. Sgt. Michele Desrochers and Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Erfe)

The younger family members forgot about their parents as they became absorbed in a variety of activities at the child care center. The teens battled each other with Wii video games of tennis, bowling and baseball. The school age children enjoyed arts and crafts, watching “Ice Age,” searching for buried treasure as pirates, sack races and assorted board games. The infants took pleasure in the individual attention and the multi-sensory toys. (U. S. Air Force photos by Tech. Sgt. Michele Desrochers and Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Erfe)

The younger family members forgot about their parents as they became absorbed in a variety of activities at the child care center. The teens battled each other with Wii video games of tennis, bowling and baseball. The school age children enjoyed arts and crafts, watching “Ice Age,” searching for buried treasure as pirates, sack races and assorted board games. The infants took pleasure in the individual attention and the multi-sensory toys. (U. S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Erfe)

The younger family members forgot about their parents as they became absorbed in a variety of activities at the child care center. The teens battled each other with Wii video games of tennis, bowling and baseball. The school age children enjoyed arts and crafts, watching “Ice Age,” searching for buried treasure as pirates, sack races and assorted board games. The infants took pleasure in the individual attention and the multi-sensory toys. (U. S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Carolyn Erfe)

The younger family members forgot about their parents as they became absorbed in a variety of activities at the child care center. The teens battled each other with Wii video games of tennis, bowling and baseball. The school age children enjoyed arts and crafts, watching “Ice Age,” searching for buried treasure as pirates, sack races and assorted board games. The infants took pleasure in the individual attention and the multi-sensory toys. (U. S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michele Desrochers)

The younger family members forgot about their parents as they became absorbed in a variety of activities at the child care center. The teens battled each other with Wii video games of tennis, bowling and baseball. The school age children enjoyed arts and crafts, watching “Ice Age,” searching for buried treasure as pirates, sack races and assorted board games. The infants took pleasure in the individual attention and the multi-sensory toys. (U. S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michele Desrochers)

The younger family members forgot about their parents as they became absorbed in a variety of activities at the child care center. The teens battled each other with Wii video games of tennis, bowling and baseball. The school age children enjoyed arts and crafts, watching “Ice Age,” searching for buried treasure as pirates, sack races and assorted board games. The infants took pleasure in the individual attention and the multi-sensory toys. (U. S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michele Desrochers)

The younger family members forgot about their parents as they became absorbed in a variety of activities at the child care center. The teens battled each other with Wii video games of tennis, bowling and baseball. The school age children enjoyed arts and crafts, watching “Ice Age,” searching for buried treasure as pirates, sack races and assorted board games. The infants took pleasure in the individual attention and the multi-sensory toys. (U. S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michele Desrochers)

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, CALIF. -- "I didn't know that!" 

That was the phrase most commonly heard during March's first Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event held in San Diego. Approximately 120 attendees were present during the two day program. 

"This program is for you," said Brig. Gen James Melin, 452nd Air Mobility Wing commander. "The reality is that there are challenges before, during and after a deployment. It's not just physiological, it's worry, stress, financial, emotional and more. And it's not only military members; the spouses go through this too, in some ways, it's more difficult. We also need to remember that children are involved in the deployment process; they will have questions as well." 

"The nation deeply appreciates what a military family does and goes through," said Gen. Melin. 

This Congressionally mandated program was the country's way of acknowledging that gratitude. Unlike active duty where many families live on base, the Reserve and Guard families are community-based, in addition to being geographically dispersed. The Yellow Ribbon program is designed to help those citizen-soldier families cope with a variety of issues and provide various resources to those who are not near bases. 

"I wish I knew some of this information a lot sooner," said Joann Heick, spouse of deployed Major Aaron Heick. "Military members get spun up for deployments; families need to get spun up too. This serves as a great starting point. I highly recommend it for all family members." 

Whatever issues the military member or families faced, there was a representative at the Yellow Ribbon program who either provided counsel or resolved the concerns.