Story by SFC LaTonya Kelly on 06/14/2017Over 500 attendees joined together in Phoenix during June 9-11, to network with senior leaders, community partners and military friendly organizations. Each group provided informative resources to Soldiers and families to create awareness and services while encountering different stages of Soldier's deployment.
"The combined well-being pilot gains efficiencies in cost reduction and streamlining business processes. There are now more resources available to Strong Bonds Programs and Yellow Ribbon participants are able to physically see other programs in action which are important to their pre and post deployment life cycle," said Brig. Gen. Tracy Smith, deputy commander for Professional Services, 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support).
During the grand opening, a video displayed a welcome message from the Chief of the Army Reserve and Commanding General, U.S Army Reserve Command, Lieutenant General Charles Luckey, reminding Soldiers to, "Get ready, be ready, and get fit."
Even though not physically present, Luckey continuously encouraged leaders to invest time in empowering teams and increasing overall unit readiness in the video segment.
On his behalf, Col. Twanda Tia' Young, USARC G-1, represented the USARC team and supported the Soldier and family panels that were created for the first time to openly discuss pre and post deployment challenges.
"This is the first time we have created a panel specifically for family members and Soldiers separately," said Young.
The panels were individually established to answer questions or provide services for family members experiencing mobilized loved ones. Free counseling sessions were available by chaplains on standby during the event.
Separate panels created for Soldiers offered answers about their military careers including command policy letters, promotion information, and medical needs.
Soldiers and families took advantage of updating and obtaining information through Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), Judge Advocate General (JAG), Reserve Personnel Action Center (RPAC), and medical information provided by the 63rd RSC Surgeon's Office.
"This Well Being Event is a redesigned and more enhancing opportunity to present topics never previously mentioned during Yellow Ribbon or Strong Bonds," stated Young.
In the past, Strong Bonds retreats did not include vendors or booths with involved community partners or military friendly organizations offering services.
"I find this Well Being Event as more advantageous than previous Strong Bonds especially with having DEERS available. It's comparable to a Soldier's Readiness Program (SRP), yet not just for Soldiers, it's inclusive to family members," explained Staff Sgt. Ruben Covarrubias, 91st Training Division training NCO.
Brig. Gen. Smith, Col. Young, and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Belynda Lindsey, 63rd RSC command chief warrant officer, greeted Arizona's 6th congressional district, Rep. David Schweikert to discuss how the integrated Well Being Event became a thriving operation with increased benefits for Soldiers and their families before, during, and after deployments.
Schweikert spoke sincerely to attendees about his goals, "As a representative, my intentions to interact with Soldiers and understand how Family Programs functions is imperative; I want to know and see how U.S Army Reserve Family Programs operates to accommodate deployed Soldiers and their families," said Schweikert.
Young ensured that Schweikert was aware of the command emphasis and how the Well Being Event took care of not only Soldiers but also families.
"Col. Twanda Young and her Army Reserve G1 team seek to continually improve programs and processes and I look forward to the future end-state," said Smith.
1st Lit. Jared Noall, commander, 401st Engineer Company (MRBC), was also impressed with the merging of Strong Bonds, Yellow Ribbon and Family Programs.
Integration is excellent! We have access to more resources and this event sets the tone and gives the big picture before families goes separate ways for deployment," said Noall.
This was his second time attending a Strong Bonds event for couples and noticed an additional difference in networking with various Soldiers and staff.
"The most important aspect is there is a greater sense of community and of building the Army family and Army Reserve tribe," said Smith.
The Well Being Event is just the beginning of more to come.