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Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program rolls on

The Yellow Ribbon Program hosted an event in Orlando, Florida, July 23-24, 2021. More than 350 Reserve Citizen Airmen and their loved ones gather in the program’s first large-scale, in-person event in more than 14 months. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mary McKnight)

DUKE FIELD, Fla. -- Reserve members and families from Duke Field recently participated in a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event held in July in Orlando, Florida. It was the first in-person event in over 14 months due to restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Yellow Ribbon Program began in 2008 following a Congressional mandate for the Department of Defense to assist Reservists and National Guard members in maintaining resiliency as they transition between their military and civilian roles.

Through much of the past 14 months, the Yellow Ribbon Program operated virtually, reaching its audience via online events.

“I’m proud of our team for the work they’ve put into making our virtual events successful,” said Mary Hill, the Yellow Ribbon Program Manager. “But we all know that getting together face-to-face is a far more effective method of connecting with one another, exchanging information and developing awareness for the many resources our Airmen and their loved ones need to have successful deployment.”

Participation from the 919th SOW in the event further enhanced the unit’s commitment to resiliency of those preparing to deploy as well as those who have recently returned home.

“The in-person event in Orlando was a tremendous success,” said Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Chavez, 919th Special Operations Wing, YRRP representative. “Members received an abundance of information and awareness for the many resources our Airmen and their loved ones need throughout all phases of a deployment cycle.”

The YRRP focuses on the pre, during and post deployment phases to ensure reservists and their families remain resilient while they transition between military and civilian roles. The event in Orlando saw a return to in-person support and connections while maintaining responsible safety measures for those attending.

The program plans for future events to deliver resources while maintaining changing COVID-19 safety protocols. Future in-person events depend on Air Force Reserve Command leadership approval of practiced safety measures and CDC guidelines.

“The Yellow Ribbon Program is staying flexible and adapting to pandemic-related challenges as they evolve,” says Chavez. “Our first priority will always be taking care of our Airmen as safely as is reasonable while giving them the resources they need.”

Attendees are currently required to wear masks and practice other coronavirus-related safety measures if they choose to attend events. Options like live-streaming and virtual events continue as available options. The YRRP remains dedicated to providing reserve members and families the support they need as health and safety measures change, no matter what.

“We want Airmen and their loved ones to have an opportunity to have a face-to-face experience to assist them through all phases of a deployment cycle, because we know it works,” says Chavez. “We will be very cautious and safe when we do.”

Members who have questions or are interested in the YRRP can contact Chavez to take advantage of the numerous benefits of the program.