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Memphis, Tennessee, March 3, 2018. A Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program was hosted by the Air National Guard at the American Red Cross of the Mid-South, 1399 Madison Ave. The program supports military families by allowing them to focus on preparing for the return of a loved one who has been away for months of overseas military service. The program is designed to help family members recognize and understand some of the common issues they will encounter when reconnected and provides tools to assist families as they ease back into a normal dynamic.
Attending the program were spouses, children, and parents of currently deployed airmen from the 164th Airlift Wing, Tennessee Air National Guard unit in Memphis. The same group attended, along with the military member of the family, a pre-deployment event, which prepared them, both logistically and emotionally, for the departure of the airmen. There will be a post-deployment event for the group after the service member returns home.
Some of the informational courses provided for the adults were: ‘Connecting to Other Military Families,’ where tips, techniques, and strategies were shared in an emotionally safe environment. ‘Identifying Depression,’ which is an American Red Cross Module that provides techniques for managing adult behavior, including those dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. The course instructs participants on how to identify the many different ways depression can manifest in an individual, how to recognize signs of depression in all family members, including oneself, and how and where to seek assistance if needed. Other sessions included ‘Saving Money & Improving Credit Scores’ and ‘Temperament & Parenting.’
Children of military members also serve when one or more of their parents are on deployment status. Two courses, ‘Roger That! Communication Counts’ and ‘Operation 10-4,’ were offered to assist with their resiliency during what can be a very difficult period.
The children went through the Red Cross Fire Safety House, which teaches home fire awareness and safety techniques. They also had an opportunity to take part in the Pillowcase Project, a Disney sponsored Red Cross project that teaches awareness and response to various natural disasters. In addition to resilience and safety training, the courses allowed the children to meet other young people who are in similar circumstances of having loved ones deployed in the military.
As a culminating activity for the children, the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program staff held a Coining Ceremony. Each child received a coin and Battalion Bear Buddy for their bravery, dedication, and support for their loved one/s who are currently serving. An important aspect of the program is to help the children realize that they too are an important key to the well being and happiness of their family unit.
For final words of encouragement, we’ll lend our ears to Norma Howard, Yellow Ribbon Support Specialist/Event Coordinator, who says “To all who are serving in the military: moms, dads, and kids, you are not alone…” If you are a military family and need support, please reach out to Norma Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Blog post by Dr. Ingrid Mitchell for the American Red Cross