Yellow Ribbon Program for Veterans
Niagara Falls, NY - With many veterans returning home from military duty in Afghanistan or elsewhere, there is now a specially designed program to help them make that move back into civilian society.
The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program took place this weekend in Niagara Falls. It was ordered by the Department of Defense for units across the country because of the Pentagon's growing concerns about mental stress, substance abuse, and even suicide for some returning veterans.
As Command Sgt. Major Richard Castelveter puts it "They're a changed person when you're in a hazardous duty area and sometimes it's a good thing and sometimes it's not as good. All depends on your experiences."
Amanda Silvers, who served overseas says "I think every soldier had a different experience with it. And some of them are more successful than others of course. But I think a lot of it is what you put into it and how much you're willing to do it for a certain amount of time."
They're encouraged to make that time and effort in these sessions at 30, 60, and 90 days after their return.
Castleveter says "We have financial counseling, we have chaplain counseling, we have educational schooling that is available. Many different programs that will re-integrate the soldier back into the civilian world."
Of course re-connecting at home with family including spouses, children, parents and others is crucial. Separation may require hard choices which are sometimes made alone in the field and at home. Gabriel Posey says "How to interact with your family, maybe your spouse or your kids...you haven't seen them in so long that sometimes when you get back it's difficult to react with them. So this definitely helps."
And Yellow Ribbon enlists colleges and companies for information and employment. As Ronald Jolly says "You have different vendors, different companies, organizations that are supporting the troops. Offering them jobs, offering them schools, trade schools, colleges. So it opens it up for them and gets their families to know that they have that there. So maybe the families can push them and say hey this is available to you if you go ahead and take that initial step."