SC National Guard Yellow Ribbon

WASHINGTON (10/6/09) - An Army National Guard program is credited with helping tens of thousands of Soldiers and their families cope better with deployment in the two years since it started in Minnesota.

Sgt. Maj. Robert Brown, Yellow Ribbon Program coordinator for the National Guard Bureau, touted the program's success to an audience attending a Sergeants Corner presentation at the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting here last week.

The program was started in 2007 to help members of the 34th Infantry Division of the Minnesota Army National Guard, which had been deployed for 23 consecutive months, Brown said.

The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act then mandated a national combat veteran reintegration program for the National Guard and Reserve, Brown said.

“In 2008, the National Guard had over 110, 000 attendees at events, ” he said. “Fiscal year 2009 to date we’ve done over 1, 000 Yellow Ribbon pre-, during- and post-mobilization events and … we’ve had over 140, 000 attendees. [For] 2010, the way ahead is to break the 200, 000 mark.”

The Army National Guard Yellow Ribbon Program is a cooperative network of military services, veteran service organizations, state government departments and other agencies that provide information, resources, referral and outreach to Soldiers, spouses and children throughout all mobilization phases, Brown said.

“Yellow Ribbon is to make Soldiers and their families self-reliant and resilient through the entire deployment cycle, ” Brown said. “[NCO] involvement is the key to success. Nobody knows our Soldiers and their families better than the noncommissioned officers.”

Suicide prevention, medical benefits, counseling, school support, youth programs, reintegration and employer support are among numerous issues addressed by the Yellow Ribbon Program.

The program includes events for Soldiers and their families before, during and after deployment. It particularly targets geographically dispersed Army National Guard families for support, Brown said.

At a minimum, Soldiers and family members who attend events leave briefed on their benefits and connect with family readiness groups and family assistance centers, Brown said.


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