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Yellow Ribbon prepares cross-trainee, key spouse for first deployment

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. James Branch

ORLANDO, Fla — After serving in the Army National Guard for a decade, Rachel Murray transferred to the Air Force Reserve as a traffic management specialist for the 927th Logistics Readiness Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

The senior airman is now preparing for her first deployment in either branch.

“It’s interesting that during my 10-year career with the Army, I never deployed, and after serving in the Air Force Reserve for 2 ½ years, I receive orders to (Southwest Asia),” Senior Airman Murray said.

Her husband, retired Army Sgt. First Class Anthony Murray, will care for their two young daughters in her absence while working his fulltime job as a logistics specialist for the Department of Veterans of Affairs.

The couple attended a Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event Feb. 15-17 in Orlando, Florida. The event promotes the well-being of reservists and their loved ones by connecting them with resources before and after deployments.

Yellow Ribbon contains specific breakout sessions to prepare Airmen and their loved ones with resources they may need during deployment. Sessions involving financial management, the Transition Assistance Program, and the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System seek to help families get organized, and build a successful deployment checklist.

“Before attending Yellow Ribbon, I didn’t fully understand the importance of a will,” she said. “I also learned about the many benefits organizations such as the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve and Red Cross offer.”

Her husband recalled attending a similar event prior to his 2005 deployment with the National Guard.

“There have been a number of changes and improvements to the many military support networks since I deployed,” he said. “I really appreciate the Yellow Ribbon Program because it is helping us with our transfer of family duties and responsibilities. I even learned how to pack a care package from Airman and Family Readiness.”

Anthony Murray is a member of the 927th Air Refueling Wing Key Spouse Program, an official Air Force unit family readiness element designed to enhance readiness, strengthen personal and family resilience and help foster a sense of community among Airmen and families. He was appointed by 927th Air Refueling Wing Commander Col. Douglas A. Stouffer.

VA officials will allow him to switch work shifts during his wife’s deployment so he can be at home with them when she normally would be.

“I feel that communication will be a very important part of this deployment,” he said. “During evenings when the girls are out of school, we plan to chat with [Rachel] via video chat whenever possible.”

Stouffer, the MacDill Reserve wing’s commander, attended the Orlando Yellow Ribbon event with 10 other Reserve Citizen Airmen from his unit. Like Senior Airman Murray, it is also his first event.

“In the Air Force Reserve, our focus is to develop resilient leaders, and remain ready to answer the call when our nation requires,” Stouffer said. “Yellow Ribbon continues to strengthen the well-being of our Airmen and their families, ensuring those four pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness (mental, social, spiritual and physical) remain strong.”

Murray said Yellow Ribbon training helped reduce the anxiety she’d been feeling while preparing for her upcoming deployment.

“I have never spent a long amount of time away from my family,” she said. “Attending this event has let me know that there are a lot of great people and professional services in our corner. The attention the caregivers gave my daughters this weekend assured me that my family will be OK during my deployment.”

She has plans to submit a commission package in the future, and hopes to serve as an active-duty officer.

“With the assistance of (Yellow Ribbon), this deployment will serve as a stepping stone for my longterm goals,” she said. “Knowing the resources that are in place for my family, I will be able to properly focus on the mission while I am overseas.”