Airmen enjoy Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Weekend

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Armando C. Argiz
  • 140th Wing Public Affairs
On January 29, the Colorado Air and Army National Guard co-hosted a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program Retreat at the Great Divide Lodge in Breckenridge, Colorado. The Y.R.R.P is a new DOD initiative for the Air National Guard, designed to provide support and outreach to service members recently returning from deployments lasting more than 90 days. The two-day seminar provides both the member and their family with useful information and activities designed to help reintegrate them back into their family and civilian lives.

On day one of the conference, the children of the deployed members had team building and reintegration activities planned, while the adults learned about the needs of returning members and loved ones. The briefings included everything from TRICARE to a segment on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In addition, private counseling sessions were conducted by the VA, where service members, spouses and parents, had an opportunity to discuss their deployed experiences and reintegration concerns in a comfortable setting.

On day two, married members were given briefings on common issues that included family stresses, coping with anger issues, and communication. The facilitator spoke specifically about being apart for extended periods and the impact that can have on reunion.

Single member briefings were much different. The Soldiers and Airmen discussed how to successfully regain their pre-deployment civilian lives. They also discussed the ability to see changes within themselves and the need to realize that it is ok to feel different.

"The hope is that this weekend will provide you with the resources that you will need should you encounter a situation that requires expert assistance or advice; concepts that will help you reintegrate in to the new normal life, post deployment," stated Colonel Andrew Meverden, Colorado Joint Force Headquarters Chaplain.

"Before this program, each state had their own way of briefing their returning members, but no one really touched on the reintegration part of it," said Sergeant 1st Class Peter Toelle, Yellow Ribbon Reintegration non-commissioned officer in-charge.

"Throughout this weekend, our Child and Youth Program provides great activities for the children, but our Military Family Life Consultants are also on hand to help process some of those reintegration issues that may have surfaced from the time dad or mom returned from deployment," said Grace Finley, 140th Wing Family Program Coordinator. The children were also given "hero medals" for the support and courage they showed during the deployment. Warm embraces were given as the service members presented medals to each of their children as part of our "We Serve Too" campaign, said Finley.

Attendee Tech. Sgt. Aaron Roberts, 140th Civil Engineer Flight stated, "The briefings were more valuable than I thought they were going to be, and I realized that deployments really do affect people and they may not be comfortable talking about until they are in this kind of a setting."

This is the third Yellow Ribbon Reintegration event the Colorado Air National Guard has hosted since the inception of the program. Much of the success of these events is due to the working relationship between the State and Wing Family Program, as well as command level support from the Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, and 140th Wing Commander, Brig. Gen. Trulan A. Eyre. As the Yellow Ribbon Program establishes itself in Colorado, the state and wing family program managers expect many more successful outcomes from these reintegration retreats.