419th Yellow Ribbon event launches program

Friday , August 06, 2010 - 11:14 AM

Staff Sgt. Heather Skinkle - 419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Recently, about 100 reservists and family members were treated to a getaway at Cliff Lodge in Snowbird with free hotel, food and daycare courtesy of the Air Force Reserve Command.

The 419th Fighter Wing's first-ever Yellow Ribbon Reintegration event was part of a congressionally directed program that aims to combat the stresses of the deployment process by providing information, support and outreach services to reservists and their families.

Workshops with a wide range of topics were offered, including a relationship workshop for dealing with marriage issues before and after a deployment, a reunion experience workshop and a spouses' forum.

"Wing members and their families aren't centrally located around Hill Air Force Base so it's crucial to have an event like this to bring everyone together," said Chief Master Sgt. Elizabeth Atisme, 419th FW command chief. "Yellow Ribbon provides them with resources the military member or spouse might not be aware of to keep the family running smoothly before, during and after a deployment."

The event also served to highlight information about alternative organizations such as the Family Connection, which provides immediate short-term counseling.

"We presented information about local organizations that offer parenting classes, respite child care and even a food pantry," said Master Sgt. Cynthia Seipert, 419th FW deployment cycle support representative.

For Yellow Ribbon programs, spreading information to reservists and their families is vital, but improving a family's communication skills runs a close second, Seipert said.

Many participants said the event's briefings taught them how to ease communication issues during a deployment cycle and throughout their lives. Others said they especially appreciated the "four lenses" briefing -- a personality test and lecture about how to interact with various personality types.

"We have a better grasp of our different personalities because of the four lenses briefing and we are learning to communicate more effectively as a family with these briefings," said Tech. Sgt. Thomas Sanborn, of the 419th Services Support Flight.

Besides helpful briefings, an added benefit of Yellow Ribbon is child care. All events provide trained and licensed child care professionals to engage the children in fun activities. The children were treated to a military working dog demonstration by the 75th Security Forces Squadron and a robot demo by a 75th Explosive Ordnance Disposal team.

Yellow Ribbon is also an avenue to get to know other reservists and family members.

"Many spouses don't feel that military connection," said Capt. Kyle Hosman, 419th Maintenance Squadron commander and event participant. "These events help them get to know other spouses and share common experiences and maybe form bonds that will help support them the next time their spouse is deployed."

This event should remind reservists and their families that they have plenty of resources to utilize, whether that is another military spouse or a first sergeant.

"I want to let our reservists and their families know that they are not alone," said Master Sgt. Cindy George, 419th Medical Squadron first sergeant and the event's keynote speaker. "We are a military family with family readiness, chaplains and first sergeants always there to assist them."

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