Families learn about deployment-related resiliency

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nicholas Monteleone
  • 927th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

It wasn’t until Master Sgt. Joseph Vergona returned from his seventh deployment that the Reserve Citizen Airmen and his family participated in a program that promotes the well-being of reservists and their loved ones by connecting them with resources before and after deployments.

“It really made the military more like family, especially for the kids,” his wife, Allison, said of the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event they participated in June 21-23 in Florida.

Vergona is an aeromedical evacuation technician with the 911th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania. The family doesn't live near the base and, Allison said, it can be hard for her and their children to feel a connection with the Air Force.

Closer proximity to a base isn’t necessarily enough to make a difference, said Yellow Ribbon participant Ashlee Duenow, whose husband, Tech Sgt. Joshua Duenow is a C-130 Hercules crew chief with the 934th Airlift Wing at Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station, Minnesota. He deployed as an active-duty Airman, and is about to go for the first time as a reservist.

“When he was active duty and surrounded by it all the time, I didn’t even know half of this information,” she said. According to Ashlee, the event was a great opportunity and informative family event.

Her husband said they learned more about keeping their family relationships resilient during and after the deployment.

“We went to one of the classes about parenting and we took a lot of good information out of that,” he said.

The Vergonas and Duenows were among nearly 800 reservists and their guests at the training weekend in Orlando, Florida. Ashlee Duenow said the family hadn’t participated in previous Yellow Ribbon events because they didn’t know about them. Her husband admitted that he knew, but didn’t fully understand what they were.

“Being here with other military families and the kids meeting other military kids going through the same thing, they don’t feel so on their own,” he said. “It gave them a more overall picture of what’s going on and I think got us a little tighter as well, too.”Yellow Ribbon 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. Classes are given in a number of areas including parenting, financial planning, TRICARE, Department of Veterans Affairs entitlements, dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and more.