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    Yellow Ribbon Event Builds Bridges for Soldiers and Families



    Story by Spc. Khylee Woodford 

    340th Public Affairs Detachment

    Deployment for a U.S Army Reservists presents unique challenges. Reservists confront the obstacle of filling the gaps they leave behind in their civilian obligations and at home.

    For Sgt. 1st Class James Wardwell, acting 1st Sgt. for the 760th Engineer Company, Marion, Virginia, the information provided at Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) events helps to bridge these gaps.

    Wardwell and his wife of 14 years recently attended a YRRP event hosted by the 81st Readiness Division in Atlanta, Friday, March 6, 2020.

    "This is my fourth event for my wife, this is her third," said Wardwell. "They provided information on Military OneSource, Tricare, benefits, and put the information in a way that Soldiers would understand," said Wardwell.

    Wardwell was joined by 320 U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers and their families over this weekend event, facilitated the 81st, and supported by 35 community partners.

    One resource Wardwell distinctly recalls as the most beneficial program learned from attending a YRRP event is the Military Kids Connect Program.

    "The program pays for an entire sport for a child," said Wardwell. "We've used it before; it's a little bit of paperwork, but totally worth it."

    "Having my children participate in sports distracts them, it's healthy all the way around," said Wardwell. "When they get to participate, they don't miss me as much."

    Resources such as these are provided at YRRP events to help equip Reserve Soldiers and their families with tools to lessen the stressors at home during every stage of deployment.

    For Baker, the YRRP in Atlanta was his first.

    Spc. Christopher Baker, also assigned to the 760th Engineer Company, was the youngest Soldier at the event. Baker capitalized on the opportunity to network with his fellow Soldiers.

    "The event let me get to know other Soldiers, especially when we were doing the Hunt the Good Stuff group exercise," said Baker. "I heard about the good reasons people have towards going on deployment."

    Baker, joined by his wife, took advantage of the elective informational sessions provided to Soldiers and their spouses as he prepares for his first deployment.

    "The event helped me out because it made me realize there is a lot more to take away from deployment than I realized," said Baker. "It helped my wife out because they told her about all of the resources she has while I'm gone."

    One of Baker's most significant takeaways from attending this YRRP event helped to open the door to attending college.

    "I didn't know I could take one class at a time while deployed," said Baker. "I will most likely apply for different colleges before I leave so I can come back with some college credits."

    YRRP events facilitate a shared network of information for Reservists like Bakers and Wardwell's while building connections between their family members.

    "The program is put in place to reduce the stress of deployment for our Soldiers, as well as separation for the family members left behind," said Command Sgt. Maj. Levi G. Maynard, with the 81st Readiness Division, Fort Jackson, Columbia, South Carolina.

    "The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration event might be the first opportunity for Soldiers to meet outside of uniform," said Maynard. "They come here, get together, network with each other's families and build trust."

    These events bring Soldiers together; they build bridges, so Soldiers and their families do not have to navigate through the challenges of deployment alone.

    "Soldiers need to know we are taking care of them by taking care of their families," said Maynard. "These events matter because that's our job, to take care of our Soldiers.”



    Date Taken: 03.08.2020
    Date Posted: 03.23.2020 09:34
    Story ID: 365684
    Location: ATLANTA, GA, US 
    Hometown: ATLANTA, GA, US
    Hometown: MARION, VA, US

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