Approximately 450 Air Force Reserve Airmen and family members attended a Yellow Ribbon event here Aug. 20, to gain information on available resources before, during and after deployments.

Since 2008, the Air Force Yellow Ribbon Program has assisted Reservists and Air National Guard members in maintaining resiliency as they transition between their military and civilian roles.

As part of the event, several guest speakers presented information to participants, including Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Dondi E. Costin, the Air Force chief of chaplains.

Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Dondi E. Costin, the Air Force chief of chaplains, speaks to a crowd of nearly 450 Airmen and their loved ones Aug. 20, 2016, during an Air Force Reserve Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The Department of Defense launched Yellow Ribbon in 2008 to assist military reservists and National Guard members with resiliency skills as they transition between their military and civilian roles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Frank Casciotta)

Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Dondi E. Costin, the Air Force chief of chaplains, speaks to a crowd of nearly 450 Airmen and their loved ones Aug. 20, 2016, during an Air Force Reserve Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The Department of Defense launched Yellow Ribbon in 2008 to assist military reservists and National Guard members with resiliency skills as they transition between their military and civilian roles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Frank Casciotta)

“I want you to think for a moment about what resiliency really is, because it’s simple,” said Costin, the senior pastor for more than half a million active-duty, Guard, Reserve, and civilian forces. “I like to think of it as the old Timex (wristwatch) commercial, ‘A Timex can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.’ That’s what resiliency is.”

Costin, a member of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein’s special staff, is responsible for establishing guidance and providing advice on all matters pertaining to the religious and moral welfare of Air Force personnel. He is also responsible for establishing effective programs to meet the religious needs of Airmen and their loved ones.

One such person is Sarah Thorpe, a former North Carolina National Guard member who attended the event with her husband, Staff Sgt. Steve Thorpe, a civil engineer with the 567th Rapid Engineer Deployable, Heavy Operational Repair Squadron, Engineer Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, who is preparing for his deployment. Sarah recalled her frustration with the lack of support programs and resources following her 2005 deployment to Iraq.“It was the first deployment for my unit, so everything was new to everyone,” she said. “We struggled. It was difficult, I didn’t know the resources, and I didn’t know how to contact the resources because I’m suddenly back to my regular life.”

 

Members of the 145th Airlift Wing recite a poem to recognized their children for being helpful and very brave while they were deployed, during a ceremony held in their honor at a Yellow Ribbon event held June 26, 2016 at Lake Junaluska, N.C. The North Carolina Air National Guard’s Yellow Ribbon Program serves as a series of stepping stones to help reunite families and reacclimatize Airmen and Soldiers back to the civilian world after deployments. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran)

Members of the 145th Airlift Wing recite a poem to recognized their children for being helpful and very brave while they were deployed, during a ceremony held in their honor at a Yellow Ribbon event held June 26, 2016 at Lake Junaluska, N.C. The North Carolina Air National Guard’s Yellow Ribbon Program serves as a series of stepping stones to help reunite families and reacclimatize Airmen and Soldiers back to the civilian world after deployments. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran)

The program promotes the well-being of Reservists and their loved ones by connecting them with resources before and after deployments. Each year, the Air Force Reserve program trains 7,000 reservists and those closest to them in education benefits, health care, retirement information and more.

“Now that they finally have the Yellow Ribbon Program, I am getting the information as a spouse and my husband is getting the information so we can work together as a team,” Thorpe said. “I’m hopeful because now I know what to expect, because I have the resources and because I can be in control of the situation at home when his mission is overseas.”

The event was the first one of its kind attended by Costin, who has been the service’s top chaplain for a year.

“You’ve got other people around you who can help you,” Costin said. “That’s what your squadron is there for. That’s what your flight is there for. That’s what your base community and your family and your neighborhood is there for – to help you.”


By Senior Airman Frank Casciotta, 482nd Fighter Wing / Published August 23, 2016