Yellow Ribbon event preps military families for deployment

MEDFORD, Ore.– Southern Oregon will soon be sending some of its men and women of the Oregon National Guard Unit overseas to serve. As preparation, hundreds of families gathered at South Medford High School on Sunday for a Yellow Ribbon event to learn more about the deployment and services to support families while their loved ones are away.

The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is a Department of Defense effort to help families of National Guard and Reserve members receive a variety of support like healthcare, childcare, employment, education, and financial help.

Over 300 citizen-soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry Battalion headquartered in Ashland will be deployed. The deployment will be to Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. This will be a federal mission, one of two types of missions the National Guard serve. The other is a state mission to provide support in case of natural disasters, emergency response or work from the governor.

For many soldiers, it will be their first time being deployed. Others, it may not be their first time, but it could be the first for their new family.

“Personally, I just recently got married,” said Maj. Nicholas Conley, 34. “And so my wife’s going through this for the first time whereas I’m going through it a couple of times.”

Maj. Conley says that having the program helps his new family adjust to being a part of the military and learning how to mitigate hardships usually faced while their loved one is away.

Other families like the Harris family are going through a similar experience. However, Sgt. David and his wife Krista from Roseburg have a six-month-old child named Brinley-Ann. Sgt. David says having his wife learn what support is out there while he is away provides a sense of relief. It’s also gratifying to know that there is an appreciation for what they do.

“It’s definitely reassuring to know that there are these resources, there are people out there that legitimately support and actually care for what we do,” he said.

The battalion will be deployed later this fall.


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