DENVER — The superintendent of a Minnesota security forces unit joined his Airmen at an Air Force Reserve Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event here Jan. 20-22 after attending a previous one that convinced him of its value.
“I was hesitant the first time I attended but quickly saw the benefits of the program and made it a goal of sharing my experience and encouraging others to attend,” said Senior Master Sgt. Mike Bier of the 934th Security Forces Squadron at Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station. “Most security forces members are type-A personalities and it’s against their nature to ask for help or attend something created to help them.”
Yellow Ribbon promotes the well-being of reservists and their loved ones by connecting them with resources before and after deployments.
“(It) has so many beneficial aspects to it, but sometimes it’s more about building relationships,” said Bier, who attended the event following a deployment to the Middle East. “The program allows (Airmen and their families) to interact with others who are going through the same thing.”
An added benefit, he said, is that the program allows Airmen to connect with co-workers away from monthly drill weekends.
“(Yellow Ribbon) gives us time to do just that with our family present,” said Bier. “That bond makes it much easier to reach out for help before or after a deployment if it is needed. Friends and family often don’t know what military members and their families go through when they are deployed, so building relationships with people who have experienced the same thing is critical.”
Senior Airman Erik Quamme, 934th SFS unit training manager, was initially skeptical about attending but did due to encouragement from his leadership. He said the program has been beneficial for him and his family.
“Attending has really helped build a support team for my family,” Quamme said. “I’m glad my leadership encouraged me to attend, and it has really been a good experience for my wife.”
Each year the Air Force Reserve trains 7,000 reservists and family members in education benefits, health care, and retirement information via Yellow Ribbon while providing break-out sessions that include resume building, anger management, couples enrichment, financial management and much more.
As a senior leader and supervisor, Bier said that he speaks with squad leaders and junior NCOs about the program and encourages them to attend and pass the information down to their Airmen.
“If I can get the squad leaders to attend and see the benefits of the program they are more likely to encourage their Airmen to attend,” Bier said. “Even if it’s not going to benefit them, it might benefit their families.”
Quamme encouraged pre- and post-deployers to try the program at least once.
“I’ll definitely be using my experience to encourage others to attend,” he said.
Bier said “it’s all about taking care of your people.”
“If I can help someone in the future through my experiences than that’s what I want to do,” he said. “I don’t care what makes them decide to attend as long as they receive the benefits the program has to offer.”
For more information about the program and upcoming events, reservists should contact their unit’s Yellow Ribbon representative.