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Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program connects members to family, information

  • Published
  • By Capt. Elaine Nowak
  • 107th Airlift Wing
ROCHESTER, NY- The 107th Airlift Wing, of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, hosted a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program here March 3 and 4. The event was for recently returned deployed service members and their families. The two-day conference provided guidance, resources, entitlements information, and interactive presentations by expert speakers.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Margarita Gurri, focused on the issues of transition, communication, crisis management, post-combat risk-taking, and post-traumatic stress disorder. She and the other presenters went out of their way to be interactive and entertaining.

Dr. Gurri offered many creative solutions for connecting with your family. For example, she handed out "fortune tellers," a paper game you may remember from middle school, as a device to open up communication. Inside were conversation starters like "Thanks for..." and "I'm worried about..."

Chief Master Sgt. Scott Green , 107th Human Resources Advisor, taught the group Four Lenses. Four Lenses gives a brief diagnostic to individuals that help them to discover their own temperament. Through learning what "color" you are helps you to understand yourself. Also, by learning about others' temperament, the hope is that you learn how to better meet their needs and understand them. The group was broken up into the four color groups for some teamwork in discussing strengths, needs, values, and joys of their lens color.

Many different organizations were represented at information tables. Military One Source, NYS Division of Veterans Affairs, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, and Tricare were among the service providers present. The vendors seemed to have a genuine interest in helping the servicemen and their families and were eager to share their resources.

Children were not only welcome, but catered to, at the event. A childcare service made it an enjoyable experience by providing games and crafts. Dr. Gurri also took time to talk to the older children. She had them share their thoughts on deployments and life with their military parents. She shared some of their comments with the group.

"We're worried about you getting hurt," one child said.
"Talk to us. We have good ideas," another said.

Family Readiness is responsible for providing the mandated Yellow Ribbon program with pre and post-deployment components. For Staff Sgt. Kelly Dunn, 107th AW Yellow Ribbon Event Coordinator, the challenge was to make the event informative yet fun. Her aim was to provide one-on-one time for members to get information from service providers as well as have an opportunity to reconnect with their family.

"It is a program meant to be enjoyable with your spouse/family. I know that most people go into it thinking it's going to be boring and monotonous. But we aim to change that attitude so everyone walks out happy and informed," she said.

Captain Peter Nowak, an Operation New Dawn veteran, attended the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program with his family.

"I learned of VA benefits I did not know I was eligible for. It was a great weekend to spend with my family and reflect on how lucky I am to serve in a country that cares about its servicemen and women," he said.

Family Readiness will hold additional Yellow Ribbon Reintegration sessions as our 107th Airmen return from their deployed locations.