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Team Andersen participates in Yellow Ribbon Program

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Whitney Tucker
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
In an effort to reach out and support members of the Guam Air Force Reserve, several 36th Wing personnel temporarily relocated to Saipan to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program July 23.

Representatives from various Andersen squadrons and organizations were on-hand to answer questions, provide counsel and assist members of Guam's 44th Aerial Port Squadron as they prepare to deploy.

"The Yellow Ribbon Program is a DoD-wide effort to educate, train and counsel National Guardsmen and Reservists throughout the deployment cycle, relieving strain on the family unit," said Maj. Anthony San Nicolas, 44 APS commander. "We had assistance from numerous 36th Wing members including the Airman and Family Readiness Center, legal, finance, chaplain, security forces and TRICARE."

Sponsored by the Air Force Reserve Command, the Yellow Ribbon Program is essentially a deployment one-stop-shop. The initiative provides guidance to members from the time they are tasked, to the day they are reunited with loved ones.

"By educating members and families throughout the cycle (pre-deployment, deployment, post-deployment) on stress relief, communication and associated issues, families can better understand the importance of the communication process with their members and their units and the types of services that are provided for them," Major San Nicolas said.

A first-time Yellow Ribbon Program participant Capt. September Hopper, 36th Wing assistant staff judge advocate, believes the program serves as a transitioning tool for reserve and guard members moving into the active-duty arena.

"For those of us who live the active-duty life every day it can be easy to forget how complicated and taxing preparing for a deployment can be," she said. "When reserve and guard members get tasked to go overseas, all of a sudden they are yanked into this environment. The Yellow Ribbon Program helps make this transition easier for the member and their family."

Deploying members and their families gave glowing reviews indicating the information supplied, in addition to the impromptu mini-vacation, left unit members and their families feeling cool, collected and better prepared.

"The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive," Major San Nicolas said. "I think we accomplished our goal and can say, without bias, the weekend was a huge success."

Though the program was primarily intended to benefit Guardsmen and Reservists, members of Andersen's active-duty family were able to learn a thing or two as well.

"This experience has taught me how important it is to be there for fellow servicemembers as they prepare to deploy and even after they come home," Captain Hopper said. "Deployments can have a serious impact on squadrons, units and families and it is our job to be there for those heading to the desert and to remind their loved ones they won't go through it alone."

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