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Program helps welcome troops, families 'home' after deployment
Air Force Link ^

Posted on 11/07/2008 4:34:28 PM PST by SandRat

11/7/2008 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFNS) -- Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command has a new office charged with ensuring deploying reservists and their families are well taken care of.

The Office of Deployment Cycle Support manages the command's Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program.

"The program helps Airmen and their families face the challenges of deployment," said Col. Mary Hill, DCS director. "It provides the family with information about the many programs and services that are available to help them and it addresses issues and concerns that families face when reintegrating back to their home communities."

Colonel Hill and Master Sgt. Juliet Alonso are the only two people currently assigned full time. They work closely with the command's Integrated Delivery System team and local IDS teams to implement the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program throughout the command.

Yellow Ribbon is a congressionally legislated directive that dictates that "deployment support and reintegration programs shall be provided for National Guard and Reserve members and their families. ... to minimize to the extent practicable the stresses of military service, particularly the stress of deployment and family separation."

The program stipulates that deployment support and reintegration programs are provided in all phases of deployment: pre-deployment, deployment, demobilization and post-deployment and reconstitution.

"Most of our bases already do a good job of taking care of their people," Colonel Hill said. "But the nature of reserve service makes it possible for some people to fall through the cracks.

"We want to make sure that all reservists and their family members are taken care of during all steps of the deployment process," she said.

Her office will provide policy guidance, collect data on support events offered at AFRC units, identify best practices, standardize support requirements and train and support wings in meeting program requirements.

Colonel Hill currently works closely with three Air Force Reserve locations that have post-deployment events scheduled between now and January 2009. Those locations include the 507th Air Refueling Wing at Tinker AFB, Okla., which recently welcomed back 155 security forces troops.

One provision of the Department of Defense program requires National Guard and Reserve components to hold reintegration activities at 30-, 60- and 90-day intervals after demobilization or the end of a deployment for all members who were mobilized or deployed for 90 days or more. The law goes on to state that reservists must receive appropriate pay and allowances for attending these deployment support and reintegration activities and that family members also should attend the events.

"This is one aspect of Yellow Ribbon that has been a bit of a stumbling block," Colonel Hill said. "Officials are still debating which family members should be included at these events and how their attendance will be funded.

"While there are still some details being worked out, the bottom line is that we are asking an awful lot of our reservists these days," she said. "We owe it to them to make sure they and their families are taken care of. That's what Yellow Ribbon is all about." (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; US: Georgia
KEYWORDS: home; militaryfamilies; ribbon; welcome; welcomehome; yellow

1 posted on 11/07/2008 4:34:28 PM PST by SandRat
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