Story by 1SG Crista Mack on 05/07/2018HONOLULU- An old oak tree may not be available to tie a yellow ribbon around in Hawaii, but the Yellow Ribbon Integration Program, supported by U.S. Army Reserve Command, found palm trees and banyans to symbolically tie on for the U.S. Army Reserve ohana, or family, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village April 27 29 where Soldiers and Families of the 962nd Mortuary Affairs preparing for an upcoming deployment and 548th Transportation Detachment (LSV) recently returned home from deployment all converged for training and support.
"This program is part of our continued commitment to the Soldiers and families as Soldiers are still placed in harms' way and we shape and assist and provide support to the families during their service members' separation," said Jon Lee, 9th MSC Command Executive Officer and a key presenter at the event. "Our family members sacrifice so that our Soldiers can serve, and we are part of their Army Reserve family, here to help them through.
The Yellow Ribbon Program provides tools, contacts, and services, to guide the families during this period of separation as well as strengthen the transition of reintegration following return from deployment. This three day event combined training classes, legal and financial assistance, and over fifteen additional resources and businesses ranging from military friendly university representatives, veteran organizations to much more.
"Family members need to understand that when Soldier mobilizes it is actually a family that mobilizes. It's not an individual, it's a family event, even when they are gone, and when they come back," Sgt. 1st Class Tamara Vilchis, the 9th MSC Yellow Ribbon Coordinator. "Often Soldiers don't think they need anything until it's too late, maybe they had everything squared away, but maybe something happens, from pay to medical or even minor details can escalate into a huge deal, and by being connected to the military resources and what this program is offering can really save a lot of heart ache and ease the process."
The Soldiers and Families at this particular event all fall under the higher command of the 302nd TTB, all fall under the U.S. Army Reserve Command of the Pacific, the 9th Mission Support Command, and therefore were all able to gather for the needed support of the Yellow Ribbon Program.
"Family programs, which oversees Yellow Ribbon, we've translated the U.S. Army Reserve vision into our vision, also expressed in three words, ready, lethal, and better," Kevin Gilbert, 84th Training Command Family Programs Director, Unit Readiness, Fort Knox, Kentucky, working the event. "Helping the Soldiers and their families be ready through connecting the resources they need to identify the challenges they'll face during the deployment, to meet those challenges well, so the Soldier knows that their family can continue to function on their own and doesn't have to worry about them back home not having to worry so they can focus on the mission."
On the final day of the event, a Welcome Home ceremony honoring and thanking the 548th TC was conducted as well.
"Yesterday, a gentleman who is retired, here with his family, said, when I was in the Army, we didn't have this, and if we did, my life would've been a whole lot better," Gilbert said. "I'm confident as a parent because my Soldier, and his family know about all these resources, these challenges, I worry less about my deployed Soldier."