Yellow Ribbon Program Helps Families of Deployers

The 10th annual yellow ribbon event was held in Nashville, Tennessee on Feb. 3, 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard photo illustration by Master Sgt. Jeremy Cornelius)

The 10th annual yellow ribbon event was held in Nashville, Tennessee on Feb. 3, 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard photo illustration by Master Sgt. Jeremy Cornelius)

Nashville, Tenn. -- The 10th annual Yellow Ribbon event to help prepare troops and their families for deployment was held at the Inn at Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee on Feb. 3, 2018.

Michelle Andrews and Norma Howard, the Yellow Ribbon Support Specialists for the 118th Wing and the 164th Airlift Wing respectively, coordinated the event that lasted all day. Attendees received useful information to assist with planning ahead and the challenges families might experience during deployment. Among the subjects covered were financial preparation, emotional health, household support, deployment safety, and other strategies to help transition into the deployment phase.

“This is more so for families,” said Andrews and Howard, “ They’ll learn VA (Veterans Affairs), they’ll learn Tri-Care benefits, [and] the Red Cross is here. [Also] ESGR (Employer Support for Guard and Reserve) actually for the deployers leaving their jobs.”

In 2008 the National Defense Authorization Act established the Yellow Ribbon program. It is based on a four-phase deployment cycle including pre-deployment, deployment, demobilization, and post-deployment/reconstitution for up to a year beyond deployment.

“Wing leadership support is critical,” said Howard. “It can make or break a program, really, in my experience.

Andrews and Howard are currently the only two Yellow Ribbon Support Specialists serving the Tennessee Air National Guard and take turns serving the needs of the Knoxville and Chattanooga units as well as their own.

“I’ve got my biggest support from my family readiness,” said Andrews referring to Linda Kieser of the 118th Wing Family Readiness Office, “She has pointed me in every direction I need to go in and has helped me get what I need. From day one she has been my rock.”

Andrews is the first Yellow Ribbon Specialist to be assigned specifically to the 118th Wing.

“This is the first Yellow Ribbon coordinator we’ve had positioned at our wing specifically just for our wing,” said Kieser, “That’s a big deal.”

For more information you can contact Michelle Andrews, Yellow Ribbon Support Specialist for the 118th Wing at 615-660-8100 or michelle.r.andrews4.ctr@mail.mil.
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