ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - When President Barrack Obama announced a new plan this Jan. 24 to increase support to service members and their families, he echoed the covenant that has existed for years between the Army Reserve and its Citizen-Soldiers.
This commitment was reaffirmed Jan 29 - 30 as the Army Reserve's 99th Regional Support Command hosted a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Event at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, N.J.
"Less than one percent of Americans are serving in the military -- a very small, elite group of people defending our nation and what we stand for," explained Col. Mikey Kloster, 99th RSC chief of staff and commander, 1st Mobilization Support Group, to the soldiers and family members attending the event. "Today is all about a chance for you to reach out and get into these resources."
More than 200 redeployed soldiers and 100 family members attended the two-day event, which offered classes on sexual assault prevention, resiliency, pay and finances, at-risk behavior, suicide awareness and prevention, substance abuse awareness, post-traumatic stress and combat-related stress, personnel policies, legal matters and post-deployment health assessments.
“I’m super-thrilled to organize these events for the soldiers and their families,” said Yara M. Lopez, chief, Well-Being Programs and Services Branch, 99th RSC. “All of these services really come in handy for the soldiers.”
Additionally, organizations such as Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, Ventnor Vet Center, Ashford University, GoArmyEd, Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces, Fort McCoy Civilian Personnel Advisory Center, American Red Cross, Military One Source and others offered products and services designed to assist Soldiers and their families.
These resources were consolidated in July 2008 when the Secretary of Defense initiated the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program to provide information, services, referrals and proactive outreach programs to reserve-component service members and their families through all phases of the deployment cycle.
The goal of the program is to prepare soldiers and families for mobilization, sustain families during mobilization, and reintegrate Soldiers with their families, communities and employers upon their return from deployment.
"Our Congress and our America are taking care of our soldiers," Kloster said.
Taking care of soldiers and their families is also the focus of Obama's new initiative entitled, “Strengthening Our Military Families: Meeting America’s Commitment.” It is the result of a May 2010 directive from the president to the National Security Staff to develop a coordinated, all-encompassing approach to supporting military families
“There are so many people out there who care about the Army Reserve and about those who serve in our military,” said U.S. Army Reserve Ambassador Myron J. Berman of N.Y. during the Yellow Ribbon event. “What people don’t realize is that demobilization and reintegration is at least as difficult as the preparation for war.”
According to the president’s new initiative, this government-wide effort will enhance the well-being and psychological health of the military family, ensure excellence in military children's education and their development, develop career and educational opportunities for military spouses, and increase child-care availability and quality for the armed forces.
These goals are mirrored in the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program.
“This program means a lot to me,” explained Ana Gomez, program manager, Yellow Ribbon Events, 99th RSC, “not only as a civilian, but as a soldier who has deployed and was not afforded these opportunities and benefits.”
Experiences such as Gomez’s should be a thing of the past with programs such as Yellow Ribbon and “Strengthening Our Military Families” in place for the future.