Yellow Ribbon Program Provides Support Services
By Army Lt. Col. Matt Leonard
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 2009 The Yellow Ribbon Program is “off and running,” said the program’s deputy executive director, James “Scotty” Scott.
The program’s goal is to prepare servicemembers and their families for mobilization, sustain families during mobilization, and reintegrate soldiers with their families, communities and employers upon redeployment.
During the first nine months of fiscal 2009, reserve components have hosted more than 1,367 Yellow Ribbon events across the 54 U.S. states and territories. Through these events, more than 133,000 reservists and their family members have received valuable training and information about support services available to them before, during and after mobilization.
In addition to helping families understand their benefits and entitlements as they transition in and out of active-duty status, the program also links people to services such as referrals and counseling through Military OneSource, Veterans Affairs Vet Centers, Tricare, and other state and local programs.
Ultimately, deployment support and military family programs are the responsibility of each unit commander. However, the program assists commanders by actively surveying the best practices from the military services, and combining those to form a joint program that servicemembers and their families can rely on for assistance and support regardless of service, component or location.
“The Yellow Ribbon Program represents an increasingly valuable resource that commanders are able to integrate into their overall deployment support, readiness and support program,” said Dennis M. McCarthy, the assistant secretary of defense for Reserve Affairs.
Meanwhile, the newly formed Yellow Ribbon Advisory Board has conducted its second meeting in the Pentagon. In addition to Defense Department representatives, leaders from the reserve components and the Departments of Labor and Veterans Affairs were in attendance.
The advisory board’s mission is to provide independent advice regarding the program to the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. Along with recommending improvements for delivery of services, the board is required to submit a report to the Senate and House Armed Services committees at least once a year.
The board is completing its initial report to Congress, which is due in early September. It also is in the process of finalizing a department instruction, which will provide Yellow Ribbon guidance to the individual reserve components.
(Army Lt. Col. Matt Leonard serves in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs.)