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    Yellow Ribbon weekend provides community support for Army Reserve families

    ORLANDO, GA, UNITED STATES

    08.25.2019

    Story by 1st Lt. Jordan Allen 

    319th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    ORLANDO, Fla. - More than 350 mobilizing or recently deployed U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers and their family members gathered at the Omni Orlando Resort at Champion’s Gate on August 23-25 for the 81st Readiness Division’s Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Event.

    The weekend event is filled with important seminars and workshops covering a variety of topics – from financial planning and stress management to healthcare and education benefits. The 81st Readiness Division Yellow Ribbon events provide Soldiers and their families with “a circle of support,” and resources to aid in a successful transition between deployments and civilian life.

    “I have witnessed first-hand how these events help our Soldiers,” said Brooke Baldwin, the Yellow Ribbon event coordinator. “If we’re able to help even just one Soldier – one family – then it’s worth it.”
    Baldwin, who also serves as a finance officer in the Army Reserve, has been part of the Yellow Ribbon team since 2015.

    “This event overall is so important not only to our Soldiers, but to their family members,” she said. “Being in the Reserve, a lot of these Soldiers live far away from any military installations. So something as simple as getting an updated I.D. card can be difficult – we provide all of those resources and more in this one location for them, free of charge. Their family members can come here with them and learn more about what they do as a Reserve Soldier, so it also helps with that communication as they prepare to deploy.”

    During the event, Soldiers and their guests enjoyed a three-night stay at the resort, and participated in numerous educational breakout sessions that covered dozens of topics. Between breakout sessions, they were given the opportunity to meet with community partners to get additional information on GI Bill options, investing for a future, and even family support such as free tutoring for children. The vendors educated troops on various career opportunities, academic programs and financial resources available to them.

    For Sgt. Kenneth Copple, a Soldier with the 346th Engineer Company, the weekend was about giving his family peace of mind during his first deployment. He departs in the coming months for a nine-month deployment to the Middle East.

    “The less they worry, the less I’ll be worried,” said Copple. “I hope this weekend helps my family understand more about what we’re going to be doing over there.”

    Copple’s father accompanied him to the Yellow Ribbon event.

    “My dad’s been there for me for pretty much every major event in my life,” Copple said. “I figured it would be nice to have him here this weekend so he’ll know more about how to stay in touch with me while I’m gone.”

    Copple explained that while previously serving on Active Duty, he didn’t see his father much, so the Yellow Ribbon weekend was also an opportunity for them to reconnect.

    “I was stationed in Alaska for three years so we didn’t get to see each other much,” he said. “Between work and drill, it’s hard. So we’re looking forward to hanging out together this weekend and spending one-on-one time together.”

    The 81st Readiness Division was scheduled to host five Yellow Ribbon events in 2019, but Baldwin says the need to assist more families through the program led them to add additional events to the calendar.

    “There are a lot of Soldiers deploying right now and in the upcoming year, so it’s important that we keep doing these events and provide resources for them and their families,” Baldwin said.

    In addition to the smaller breakout group sessions, the event featured a Q-and-A panel designed specifically for family members to ask questions and discuss any concerns they may have with a panel of Soldiers, dependents, and family advocates. During the panel, attendees asked candid questions about the deployments their loved ones face in the near future.

    “Every one of you sitting here has a tougher job than the majority of our Soldiers during deployments, said Brig. Gen. Ernest Litynski, the Deputy Commanding General for the 81st Readiness Division. “For Soldiers, we grow accustomed to the daily routine while we’re deployed. The resources are here for you this weekend – that’s step one – but it’s most important for you all to know that you have a support system here that surpasses rank and unit.”

    Although the majority of the attendees were preparing to deploy, nearly 100 Soldiers at the event recently returned home and were at the event to get further help with reintegration. Capt. Britta Kleven, an Emergency Room Nurse from Fergus Falls, Minnesota, said the program was essential for her family while she was serving with the 452nd Combat Support Hospital in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

    “The Yellow Ribbon program has helped my family and given them some exposure to really be part of a military community,” Kleven said. “We as deploying Soldiers already have a community within our units or our jobs, but Yellow Ribbon gave that same sense of community to my family – it gave them a chance to connect with each other, but also with additional resources that they may not have known about otherwise.”

    As soldiers and their loved ones departed at the end of the weekend, many plan to spend additional quality time in and around Central Florida visiting tourist attractions before they return to their units.

    “As a citizen Soldier, we do not have the same support structure as an Active Duty component, said Brig. Gen. Litynski. “So the fact that we’re able to bring everyone together for a weekend and provide them with support, stability and connections throughout the 81st and the Army Reserve is a really powerful thing.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 08.25.2019
    Date Posted: 08.26.2019 14:26
    Story ID: 337183
    Location: ORLANDO, GA, US

    Web Views: 28
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