Niagara Gazette

Communities

June 15, 2013

U.S. Army's Yellow Ribbon program sets up shop in the Falls this weekend

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — This weekend's program focuses solely on the soldiers returning home, the final three phases of the program. Organizers like Campbell, Master Sgt. Abigaile Taylor and Staff Sgt. Richard Gentile, who serves as the program's outreach coordinator, said reaching those who come home is as important as working with the families before departure, simply because those coming home can sometimes suffer from tragic situations.

A February report from the Department of Veteran's Affairs analyzed data from 1999 to 2010 and recognized the total amounts of suicides among active duty service people and veterans had increased across the timeframe of the study. The program's No. 1 concern, Taylor said, is combating the soldier or veteran's desire to kill him or her self.

"We provide a questionnaire for the returning soldier," she said. "We have to look at suicide rates, to make sure the soldiers are whole again and are able to go back home. Because they may end up redeployed, where they'll have to get ready again. They're in a downphase for now, but in another year, they may be going back."

Even the most well-adjusted soldier returning home is required to proceed through the different phases with their families, but they're able to use the information they receive however they want.

Taylor said some items may not be pertinent to their situation, but a friend who served with them may need to know some of the things offered in the sessions. So she said she encourages everyone to pay attention to everything, just in case.

Sanders said he did just that and will be taking some of the material offered in the group with him to offer to his fellow reservists in his unit back home.

"Some things I'm going to take back home with me to my unit," he said. "There's always talk about these things. There's a lot of talk, like 'Well, I'm supposed to do this. This is what I do in this situation.' But it's different when you have to actually do it. This program is a demonstration."

Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.

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