New Yellow Ribbon program prepares National Guard Soldiers and Families for Afghanistan Deployment
Story by: Sgt. 1st Class Peter Towse - 42nd Infantry Division Public Affairs
Dated: Sat, Dec 12, 2009
ONEONTA - Crystal Walker shares her experiences with Soldiers and family members of the New York Army National Guard’s 827th Engineer Company, Saturday, Dec. 13 during a Yellow Ribbon pre-mobilization briefing.
Walker was one of several speakers and service providers made available at the event to help soldiers and their families prepare for deployment to Afghanistan in early 2010 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The 827th Engineer Company is a horizontal construction company specializing in building and repairing roads and is headquartered in Horseheads, NY and has a detachment in Walton NY. They are part of the 204th Engineer Battalion based in Binghamton. The Battalion plays a significant role responding to sate emergencies.
In Afghanistan the 827th is expected to be involved primarily in road construction with D-7 Dozers, Scrapers, Graders and general earth moving equipment.
Photo by Staff Sgt. Kevin Abbott, Joint Forces Headquarters--New York
HORSEHEADS, NY--Soldiers of the New York Army National Guard’s 827th Engineer Company and their family members received vital information during a Yellow Ribbon pre-mobilization briefing at the Wings of Eagles Discovery Center here, December 12.
The Yellow Ribbon program gives family members support by providing information and assistance in areas of family and legal counseling, financial education, medical benefits, educational assistance, child care, employee support and a host of other benefits during the unit’s deployment.
“We want to provide more comprehensive Soldier and family support before, during and after a mobilization,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick Murphy, the Director, Joint Staff New York National Guard. “Mobilization is a continuing cycle and we want families to be aware of all the benefits entitled.”
The New York Army National Guard Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program was created to help Soldiers and their family members cope with the stress of returning to civilian life after deployment.
Now the Yellow Ribbon program is being used to prepare Soldiers and family members in advance of a deployment as a way to better support them and possibly address challenges before they become problems. “The families need to know that we are here for them day and night throughout the deployment, said Jeanna Clark, the New York State Military Family Assistance Center Manager.
“I didn’t know what to expect today, but it is really nice to know that there are so many people ready to help us,” said Ashley Piper, the wife of Spec Kevin Piper a heavy equipment operator for the 827th. “We are a very close family and this deployment will be difficult, but I know that we will be strong.”
The Horseheads meeting, was one of three pre-mobilization events held for the families of Soldiers deploying to Afghanistan the weekend of Dec. 12-13.
Other sessions were held at the Connecticut St. Armory in Buffalo and the Holiday Inn in Oneonta on Sunday, Dec. 13. The three different meetings were designed to make it easier for families to attend without having to drive long distances.
In Buffalo members of the 152nd Engineer Support Company, who will deploy to help round out the 827th, got their own briefing, while Soldiers who drill with the 827th at the Walton Armory were invited to the Oneonta session.
“Today is specially designed to let us know our benefits during our deployment,” said Capt. Jeff Miles, the commander of the 827th. “The families here today are very appreciative of the Yellow Ribbon program.”
Over 3200 Soldiers and 1800 family members have been supported through Yellow Ribbon events, according to program officials.
“This is very helpful information for me,” said Jessica Raymond, the wife of Spc. Robert Raymond. “We did not have this information before, even when my husband was Active Duty.” Spc. Raymond is a heavy equipment operator with the 827th Engineers and has deployed to Kosovo and Afghanistan.
“The deployment is going to be a sacrifice and it will be difficult, but we will get through this together,” said Col. Eric Olsen, the New York National Guard Chief Chaplain.
The 827th Engineer Company is a horizontal construction company specializing in building and repairing roads. For this upcoming deployment to Afghanistan, the 827th will be doing primarily road construction with bulldozers, scrapers, graders, and general earthmoving equipment. They are regularly called to assist the State with snow removal and flood support.
“Mobilization is a challenge, but it is a challenge we want to take on...we are committed to be a part of your deployment,” Murphy said.