“The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) is a DoD-wide effort to promote the well-being of National Guard and Reserve members, their families and communities, by connecting them with resources throughout the deployment cycle. Through YRRP events, Service members and loved ones connect with local resources before, during, and after deployments.”
The YRRP consists of a series of events at key stages in the deployment cycle:
Phase 1: Pre-deployment
Phase 2: During deployment (just for families)
Phase 3: Demobilization
Phase 4: Post-Deployment (30, 60 and 90 days after deployment)
So how is this helpful to you, your service members and your family? The YRRP is a great opportunity, especially for those new to deployments, to gather information, resources, and ask questions. I have attended several of these events as I’ve been through multiple deployments with my National Guard husband.
Here are nine of my top insights after attending a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event:
- Travel is booked for spouses and family, but service members will need to go into DTS and book their own flights. Make sure you stay on top of this. Make phone calls, email and make sure you get this done. I’ve seen several service members (and their families) show up to the airport and not have a flight. Make sure you and your family are squared away. This is a huge event and with so many reservations, you can easily fall through the cracks.
- There will be a lot of people and things will be chaotic, especially at check in. There will be lines and you will have to wait. Once you arrive to your hotel, your service member will have to complete a series of tasks on a punch card to get your hotel key. They will need to fill out paperwork, collect name tags for themselves and their family and a host of other tasks. Be patient.
- You will be in classes all weekend. These are jam packed sessions, and you won’t have very much free time until the evening. Classes are mandatory and you will have to scan your name tag before each class session. There are, however, optional afternoon sessions. If you don’t feel they are relevant, you may skip them.
- These events are generally in touristy areas. Take advantage of the opportunity to see the sights. The cost of taxis and rental cars are not refunded but the program usually alerts you of any discounted tickets and low cost transportation.
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided.
- Take advantage of booth time. This is when you’ll visit with a large number of military related tables such as the VA, Tricare, USAA, Humana, universities and colleges. You’ll have the opportunity to talk to representatives, pick up information, pamphlets, and swag!
- Childcare is available and the children have their own separate area with activities throughout the day.
- Dress code is business casual. Dress nice but wear something comfortable, as you will be walking.
- Go with the mindset to learn. Make sure you ask questions and participate in the sessions. This program is designed to help you and your family. Take advantage of it and use the resources!
The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program events are a great opportunity to gather information and learn about resources during different phases of deployment. You will have questions before, during and after a deployment so attend them if possible. They have been especially helpful to my husband and me during the post deployment sessions. We learned about organizations and services we never knew existed. I found several booths devoted to military spouses, military spouse employment, marriage, stress management and children’s programs. Although they can be chaotic, the information and experience is valuable.
Have you ever attended a YRRP event? Share your insights with other members below.
About the blogger: Angela Caban is an Army National Guard spouse, freelance writer, published author and branding expert. In 2010, she founded the Homefront United Network, a military spouse and family support blog created to assist spouses who do not live near an installation, but also focusing on bridging the gap between National Guard, Reserve and Active Duty spouses. She has an extensive background in Human Resources and Communications, with her Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a Master’s in Human Resources. Angela resides in the beautiful Garden State of New Jersey with her husband and two children.