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‘Yellow Ribbon’ greets 50th in AC
By Sgt. Wayne Woolley, NJDMAVA/PA

After two months of tough training in Texas followed by 10 hard months in Iraq, the Soldiers of the 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Lawrenceville, got a chance to unwind with their families in Atlantic City in August.

It was the first of three Yellow Ribbon reintegration events to help Citizen-Soldiers make the transition back to civilian life and learn about how their service in the combat zone has made them eligible for enhanced education, health and other benefits.

Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, the Adjutant

Chris Kulkosky, left, Veterans Service Training Officer with the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs discusses state and federal benefits with a 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Soldier. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Olsen, 177FW/PA.

General, urged the Soldiers to take advantage of every benefit.

“You spent a year of your life defending our way of life,” Rieth said. “You’ve earned every entitlement you have coming to you.

” As the event began Aug. 16 at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Gov. Jon S. Corzine reminded the Soldiers and their families that when they deployed in June 2008, he had pledged on behalf of the government that they would not be forgotten.

“This reintegration process is all about keeping the promise that our state and nation will not forget what you have done for all of us,” Corzine said.

The Yellow Ribbon program is a year-old initiative sponsored by the Department of Defense and provides for three events within 90 days of the return of Soldiers from a combat deployment. The first event is to provide ‘Yellow Ribbon’ greets 50th in AC By Sgt. Wayne Woolley, NJDMAVA/PA Soldiers with information on benefits. The second event focuses on their mental health and the final reintegration event is for a comprehensive health screening. The Pentagon provided New Jersey with about $3 million for the Yellow Ribbon program.

The goal of the first event in Atlantic City was to give the Soldiers and their families the ability to learn about their benefits in an informal setting. Many Soldiers with children brought them along.

Spc. Miriam Hines, left, 154th Water Company receives an information packet from Ronald Calissi, Fairleigh Dickinson University. Photo by Spc. Mark O'Rear, 444th MPAD.

Having his 2-year-old daughter Aimee in tow ensured that Spc. David Bennett of Barnegat had few dull moments. The 23-year-old Rutgers University student alternated his time listening to briefings and then turning the listening duties over to his wife whenever Aimee got restless and wanted to run in the hallways in the Convention Center.

“Having her here is actually relaxing for me … it kind of makes it less like a formal military event,” said Bennett, who served near Baghdad with the 328th Military Police Company of Cherry Hill.

The event closed with a banquet for the Soldiers and their families.

Sgt. 1st Class Keith Johnson, 51, of Williamstown, said he considered the banquet an extension of the welcome home that began with a parade in Trenton in June and has continued with events in towns across the state.

“The parade, the picnics, now this all kind of reminds you that people appreciate what we did,” Johnson said. “Everybody has been great to us.”

Table of Contents
Volume 34 Number 5 Staff / Information
(c) 2009 NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs