The Yellow Ribbon Program helps service members as they separate from and reintegrate with their familie before and after a deployment.
Last month's local Yellow Ribbon program featured referral information, vendor booths and breakout sessions on the concerns and issues faced by pre-deployers, 30-60 day post-deployers and their loved ones.
The event was coordinated by SMSgt. Anthony Cunningham, Yellow Ribbon Representative at the 911th Air Reserve Station in Pittsburgh.
The program is a "DoD-wide effort to help National Guard and Reserve Service members and their families connect with local resources before, during, and after deployments, especially during the reintegration phase that occurs months after Service members return home."
Allegheny is one of the three counties in Pennsylvania with the largest military populations, along with Philadelphia and Cumberland.
"We have 54 military personnel and 37 civilians who live in the 15108 zip code," said Lt. Col. Lowell Bingham at the 911th Family Support Squadron.
This figure only accounts for Air Force Reservists. Add Army and Air National Guard, and there is a significant number of Moon and Coraopolis families impacted by deployments.
"During deployments, families face issues associated with separation," said Terrance Stuart in the 911th Family Readiness office. "[This includes] anxiety by children, communications issues, juggling legal and financial issues when one person is overseas."
More than 70 families attended the most recent Yellow Ribbon Event last month, organized by the 911th ARS.
One feature of Yellow Ribbon events is a keynote speaker, who offers advice on family-related issues from health to communication. In December, Elaine Dumier addressed the military families. In addition to writing three books on reintegration, Dumier manages a website called I'm Already Home Again, which offers resources for military families.
Programs like YRP and OMK are similar in mission of supporting military families. While the YRP is a Department of Defense program, it can use the help of non-military volunteers. You can find announcements on ways to get involved and dates of upcoming events in this column as the are announced to the public.
"Your Patch.com article," adds Lt. Shawn Walleck, 911th Public Affairs officer, "is a Yellow Ribbon as this program provides consistency across the command on how we take care of Airmen and their families throughout the deployment process."
Next week we will be taking a look at the Pittsburgh Military Support Group, and explore how OMK and the YRP collaborate with them on projects in the local community.