|On Friday, Aug. 3, 2012, friends and family members of the Soldiers from the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade say goodbye, with hugs and kisses, at Hendrickson High School in Pflugerville, Texas as the approximate 200 soldiers prepare to leave on a deployment to Afghanistan. While away from their loved ones, family members of the deployed soldiers will have opportunities to participate in yellow ribbon events and receive any necessary support from Family Support Services. (National Guard photo by Laura L. Lopez/Released).
Story by Laura Lopez
CAMP MABRY, Texas - November 1st marks the start of a month-long proclamation declaring November as Military Family Month. With more than 31,000 men and women in the Texas Military Forces (TXMF) answering the call to serve the nation in support of the Global War on Terror, members with Family Support Services (FSS) remain diligent in providing top-notch care and support services to service members and their families.
“Without strong families who stand by their service member, a successful National Guard cannot exist,” said Lt. Col. Alba Villanueva, Family Support Services Branch Manager. “With the ever-changing face and duties of the National Guard, it’s important to help National Guard families achieve readiness for what’s ahead while remaining flexible in the present.”
An umbrella organization consisting of youth and family programs, Strong Bonds workshops, Transition Assistance Advisors, Resilience and Mental Health programs, as well as family readiness, the Texas Military Forces Family Support Services reports assisting more than 185,000 customers in fiscal year 2012.
“Throughout fiscal year 2012 our Yellow Ribbon program, which aims to help Reserve and National Guard members reintegrate with their families, communities and civilian employers following a deployment, reached nearly 6,300 people over the course of 40 events,” said Villanueva.
A congressionally mandated program, established in 2008, the Yellow Ribbon Program focuses on preparing service member and their families for mobilization, sustaining families during deployment and reintegrating service members and their families following one’s return from a deployment. Phases commencing a minimum of 60 days before the Soldier leaves and continuing throughout and for a minimum of 60 days post deployment, Yellow Ribbon topics include legal readiness, family stressors, communication, suicide prevention, substance abuse and job fairs.
“We want to stress that whether it be a first deployment or sixth for our service members, new information and resources are identified every year,” said Villanueva stressing those Soldiers with multiple deployments have an added value to the families and other Soldiers by sharing their knowledge and lessons learned.
In addition, the Family Support Services resilience team members strive to assist units, Soldiers, and Families by providing programs, services and resources that address critical psychological and emotional needs. Through Peer-to-Peer (P2P) training and other advanced courses, soldiers learn how to recognize signs of distress in their fellow Battle Buddies and Wingmen and how to get help when needed. Essentially enabling qualified service members to be peer interventionists at the unit level to identify, intervene and initiate referral management the ultimate goal is to ensure both their personal and extended military family is there for support.
“This program is focused on preventing our soldiers and families from getting so stressed that they consider taking drastic measures to deal with their stress and is one that is driven year round,” said Capt. Carina Robinson, Texas Military Forces Family Support Services Resilience Coordinator. “After all, we are Texans defending Texas.”
Other fiscal year 2012 highlights include the Job Connection Education Program’s 1000th hire, several youth program camps, multiple family outreach events and a Suicide Prevention 5K run.
For more information, about Family Support Services or a list of upcoming events visit http://www.txfss.us or call 1-800-252-8032.