Travel, build resiliency with Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kat Justen
  • 459th Air Refueling Wing

Are you a recent, current or upcoming Air Force Reserve deployer? Did you know there are free trips available to you and your loved ones to some great destinations where you can learn valuable information to prepare for deployment, sustain yourself and your family during the mobilization process, and effectively reintegrate with home-life, work, and community upon return?

Eligible Deployers with the 459th Air Refueling Wing are welcome to attend Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program events at no cost to learn about information, education, services, and outreach opportunities available to them at many notable U.S. destinations such as Phoenix; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Orlando, Florida, throughout the year.

“Yellow Ribbon is a program created to serve Air Force Reservists and their families through all phases of the deployment cycle,” said Captain Damon Boucher, 459th Air Refueling Wing chaplain. “Monthly events include an inspiring key-note speaker, educational referral material, university options, resource providers and interactive breakout sessions. Breakout topics include: benefits information, financial management, marriage enrichment, living as a single, and many more.”

According to Boucher, members are eligible to attend four months prior to a 90 day or more deployment and two separate events within one year of returning from a 90 day or more deployment. They can also bring guests and family.


“Members may attend alone, bring one adult guest (18 or older), two adult guests, one adult guest and any or all DEERS eligible children, or any or all DEERS eligible children,” said Boucher. “Guests may be eligible for invitational travel authorizations, which provide reimbursement for actual travel and dining expenses.”


These events are beneficial to not only deplorers, but their families as well. They provide them with insight into the Airman way of life while building the foundations for an expansive support network.


“Yellow Ribbon exists to build resiliency for Airmen and their families,” said Boucher. “When a member deploys, their loved-ones carry the burden. Yellow Ribbon provides the resources necessary to support members and their families through all phases of the deployment process.”


Having experienced deployment hardships without utilizing the Yellow Ribbon program in the past, Master Sgt. Jacquelyn Salkeld, 459th Mission Support Group first sergeant, reflected on the difficulty of going it alone.

“I did not realize the impact my deployment would have on me, I always thought I was bullet proof but I came home riddled with holes in my personal wellbeing,” said Salkeld. “Struggling with those difficulties on my own was very hard and I was afraid to reach out for help.”

After having attended an event, Salkeld could see in hindsight how much the event could have helped her during her previous deployment.

“It made me realize had I gone right after my deployment, that maybe I would have been a better Airman and transitioned a little easier into home-life,” said Salkeld. “What I experienced and my reaction to it impacted how I was as a person and as an Airman in the Air Force. I found the experience truly rewarding.”

The appeal of Yellow Ribbon programs is ever increasing as many members of the 459th ARW utilize the opportunity to travel with family while learning valuable tools for success and sustainment.

“The Yellow Ribbon Program continues to grow as more Airmen take advantage of the resources provided for them and their families,” said Boucher. “In 2016, more than 200 members and their families from the 459th have participated in a Yellow Ribbon event.”


If interested in participating in a pre- or post- deployment Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event, 459th ARW members can check the SharePoint front page announcements for upcoming events. In addition, links are sent via the wing distribution list, so be sure to have an updated email on file. Registration is generally available eight weeks prior to the event.