News: Southwest Region Reserve Component Command hosts Returning Warrior Workshop in Sacramento
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gerardo Jimenez
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Navy Region Southwest Reserve Readiness Command (NRSW RCC) hosted nearly 100 service members and guests at a Returning Warrior Workshop in Sacramento, June 1–2.
The RWW participants arrived from cities across the U.S. and abroad, including San Diego, Tucson, Salt Lake City, and from as far as Hawaii, Canada and Guam.
The goal of the event is to honor returning warriors for their sacrifice and to assist post-deployed military members and their families to transition into civilian life after enduring challenging deployments.
Capt. James P. Winkler, deputy commander, NRSW RCC, kicked off the workshop with an opening statement welcoming warriors home and honoring them – and their families – for their service and sacrifice.
“This is my second RWW and I am honored to be involved with this program in my role as the Deputy RCC,” he said. “I am very impressed with the resources available to our returning warriors at these workshops and have also learned a lot from them.”
RWW Speaker Retired Rear Adm. Michael Shatynski began the presentations by honoring attendees for their courage and for exemplifying the “Code of the Warrior,” which unites all returning warriors.
“The code of the warrior weaves throughout what we do,” he said. “It’s the core of what we do. You all know what the code is in your heart. It’s your code. You live by it every day ... You are very special for what you do. It’s a blessing that our country has people like you.”
This is the second time the RWW was held in Sacramento since the workshop was first launched in 2006. The workshop is funded by the Department of Defense’s Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program and is heralded as one of the most effective and successful reintegration programs for demobilized military members.
Chief Construction Mechanic Charles Baker attended the event with his girlfriend and said it was instrumental to helping families rebuild after deployment.
“It’s good that our loved ones get to see what we went through,” he said. “They can understand our side and we can understand their side. It opens up everyone’s eyes on what we go through on deployment and what families go through at home.”
His guest, Alejandra Cano, said the workshop provided a nurturing environment for couples and families to reconnect. “It creates a space for families to better understand each other and open up communication,” she said.
In a presentation called “Life Matters,” Retired Rear Adm. James Symonds encouraged demobilized warriors to maintain ongoing communication with their loved ones, to focus on family, to pursue their passions, and to maintain both physical and mental well-being.
“As you reservists know, the civilian world is just plain different,” he said. “The transition is even tougher for Reservists. Even in peacetime, a deployment is a shock. That’s why this Returning Warrior Workshop is really important. You answered the call of the nation. You volunteered. You did what was asked of you. What is important going forward is quality of life for you and your family.”
During a session called “Military families … Our new heroes,” Retired Capt. Jane Bingham emphasized the vital role that families play while loved ones are on deployment.
“Thank you families. Without you, we couldn’t do the job half as well as we do because you make all the difference in the world. You stood watch, families. You were there. You are amazing. Don’t forget you are always in our hearts, no matter what,” Bingham said.
In addition to speaker presentations, the RWW provided breakout sessions for warriors and guests to gather new information and improve life skills. Sessions included Couples Reconnecting, R U Angry?, VA Benefits, Getting Specific with Family Issues, and a special session for returning female warriors. Various organizations that provide resources for service members and families also set up information booths.
In the evening, attendees and guests were celebrated with a special “Banquet of Honor” and were all awarded with certificates of appreciation and coins for their service overseas and on the home front.
The Banquet of Honor guest speaker was Rear Adm. Mark J. Belton, commander, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group. He closed the event with a message for service members to pass on the lessons they learned and to take full advantage of available assistance.
“Use every resource at your disposal,” he said. “You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.”
If you are interested in enrolling in an RWW, contact your regional coordinator and reserve a seat at one of the next RWWs in your region at www.ia.navy.mil.
For more news from Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, visit www.navy.mil/local/nrnpasew/.