Yellow Ribbon program helps returning, deploying Guardsmen

Written by  //  February 25, 2012  //  Feature Stories, News

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 25, 2012) – They came from different units – some just returning from deployment, others preparing to deploy – but they were all able to find resources to help them deal with the changes ahead at a recent Florida National Guard Yellow Ribbon Program event at the Sawgrass Mariott in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

“The roles change when we’re deployed and gone for a year,” said Brig. Gen. Frank Laudano, commander of the 164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. “Those of us who are deployed don’t realize that.”

Nearly 650 Soldiers and their family members attended the event, which was unique in that it catered to both returning and deploying service members. The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is part of a Department of Defense-wide effort to connect National Guard and Reserve members with local resources before, during and after deployments.

Soldiers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation Regiment based in Jacksonville, Fla., recently returned from deployment to Iraq where they provided aerial medical evacuation support. Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 265th Air Defense Artillery based in Daytona Beach, recently returned from a year-long deployment providing Air Defense for the Nation’s capital. Both units are in the post-deployment phase of the Yellow Ribbon program, which is also a critical time for Soldiers to connect again after being home with their families for a few weeks.

Approximately 20 Soldiers from the Florida National Guard’s 2153rd Finance Detachment were also present with their families for the event in order to gain information about services that are available to them and their families while they are deployed. The pre-deployment phase of the Yellow Ribbon Program focuses on preparing Soldiers and their families for extended separation by ensuring they have adequate support back home and they are financially prepared.

A central part of the reintegration process for many returning Guardsmen is finding a job. Providing employment assistance has become a large focus of the Florida National Guard’s Yellow Ribbon Program, which continues to add resources and services for employment at each new event. The Soldiers at this particular Yellow Ribbon event were able to speak with more than 15 employers who are interested in hiring veterans and Guardsmen.

In addition to employment services, education, healthcare, legal and financial representatives were available, as well as several mental and behavioral healthcare providers to help the Soldiers with whatever issues may arise throughout the deployment cycle.