Airmen and families gather for Yellow Ribbon weekend

Col. Donna Prigmore, 142nd Fighter Wing vice commander, delivers the opening address to deploying Oregon Air National Guard Airmen and their families at the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) event held May 29-31, 2015 at the Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore. Prigmore’s remarks focused on the importance of the mission and the family members left behind that also need the support from the unit. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

Col. Donna Prigmore, 142nd Fighter Wing vice commander, delivers the opening address to deploying Oregon Air National Guard Airmen and their families at the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) event held May 29-31, 2015 at the Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore. Prigmore’s remarks focused on the importance of the mission and the family members left behind that also need the support from the unit. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

Oregon Air National Guard members attending the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) event   held at the Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore., May 30, 2015, listen to Key Note Speaker Col. (ret) Terry Larkin discuss adversity as part of the opening program for the three day weekend of events. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

Oregon Air National Guard members attending the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) event held at the Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore., May 30, 2015, listen to Key Note Speaker Col. (ret) Terry Larkin discuss adversity as part of the opening program for the three day weekend of events. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

Col. (ret) Terry Larkin, former National Guard chaplain, delivers the Key Note address for the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) event held at the Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore., May 30, 2015. Larkin discussed adversity and personal challenges to those deploying Oregon Air Guard members attending the YRRP weekend.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

Col. (ret) Terry Larkin, former National Guard chaplain, delivers the Key Note address for the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) event held at the Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore., May 30, 2015. Larkin discussed adversity and personal challenges to those deploying Oregon Air Guard members attending the YRRP weekend. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

Airmen and spouses interact during the, “How I see it,” breakout session, May 30, 2015, Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore. The sessions allow members and their families the ability to talk about issues during the deployment cycle. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

Airmen and spouses interact during the, “How I see it,” breakout session, May 30, 2015, Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore. The sessions allow members and their families the ability to talk about issues during the deployment cycle. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

Oregon Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Brandon Foy, a paralegal with the 142nd Fighter Wing, right, assist one of many families with pre deployment paperwork prepared for members during the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) weekend, May 30, 2015, Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

Oregon Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Brandon Foy, a paralegal with the 142nd Fighter Wing, right, assist one of many families with pre deployment paperwork prepared for members during the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) weekend, May 30, 2015, Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

Ms. Amy Conroy, 142nd Fighter Wing family programs director, center, discuss some of the services and events during the opening of the Yellow Ribbon event weekend, along with Ms. Tami Narramore, 173rd Fighter Wing family programs director, left, and Art McCallum, a local ESGR volunteer, right, May 30, 2015, Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

Ms. Amy Conroy, 142nd Fighter Wing family programs director, center, discuss some of the services and events during the opening of the Yellow Ribbon event weekend, along with Ms. Tami Narramore, 173rd Fighter Wing family programs director, left, and Art McCallum, a local ESGR volunteer, right, May 30, 2015, Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

Airman and families arrive for the final day of the Yellow Ribbon event, May 31, 2015 at the Great Hall, Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

Airman and families arrive for the final day of the Yellow Ribbon event, May 31, 2015 at the Great Hall, Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

Director of Psychological Health for the 142nd Fighter Wing, Dr. DeAnn Smetana, right, discusses stress and health related topics to the Airmen and families attending the Yellow Ribbon event weekend held at Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore., May 31, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

Director of Psychological Health for the 142nd Fighter Wing, Dr. DeAnn Smetana, right, discusses stress and health related topics to the Airmen and families attending the Yellow Ribbon event weekend held at Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore., May 31, 2015. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

Airmen and families participate in the “Four Lenses,” breakout session, May 31, 2015, Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore. The training allowed members a chance to better understand different personal characteristics in a fun and interactive environment during the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) event. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

Airmen and families participate in the “Four Lenses,” breakout session, May 31, 2015, Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore. The training allowed members a chance to better understand different personal characteristics in a fun and interactive environment during the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) event. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

Airmen and family members take part in a yoga class, one of the many breakout sessions that members could choose to participate in during the three day Yellow Ribbon event weekend, May 29-31, Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)
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Airmen and family members take part in a yoga class, one of the many breakout sessions that members could choose to participate in during the three day Yellow Ribbon event weekend, May 29-31, Sunriver Resort, Bend, Ore. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

Mr. James Owens, the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) coordinator, discusses various aspects of the weekend program to members of the Oregon Air National Guard preparing for deployment, May 30, 2015, Bend, Ore. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)
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Mr. James Owens, the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) coordinator, discusses various aspects of the weekend program to members of the Oregon Air National Guard preparing for deployment, May 30, 2015, Bend, Ore. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs /Released)

BEND, Ore. -- In the height of World War II, over 90,000 U.S. Army combat engineers were preparing for the adversities of battle at Camp Abbot, a 5,500-acre training center here along the Deschutes River.

The 17 weeks of training shaped the new recruits into a tough and skilled force, ready for the demands of defending their nation abroad.  After the camp was closed in late 1944, the one remaining training project constructed by the new engineers was the legendary Officers Club, known today as the Great Hall at the Sunriver Resort.

As another generation of Citizen-Airmen faces the ubiquitous demands of overseas action, the landmark building was once again packed with deploying service members, as nearly 200 Oregon Air National Guardsmen and their families gathered for three days of reflection and preparation.

The May 29-31 Yellow Ribbon event held at the Sunriver Resort, provided a unique setting for Airmen, family and Yellow Ribbon staff to integrate the assistance and resources needed for mobilization.

The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) allows National Guard members and their families the opportunity to bond and connect with their local support community during the entire deployment process.

During her opening remarks, Col. Donna Prigmore, 142nd Fighter Wing vice commander, welcomed everyone attending and touched on the importance of the upcoming challenges.

"The assignment that each of you is about to take on is of global significance: don't underestimate the role each of you here will play in that mission's success," she said.

Transitioning her testimonial quickly, she emphasized that "even though I am a member of the military, I am also a military spouse, so I can empathize with all of you left behind just how difficult the separations can be."

The benefits of the YRRP weekend concentrate a host of provisions for the deployed member, their families and employers at home. Workshops during the event focused on personal finances, parenting, maintaining a healthy marriage and other seminars to help elevate stress.

As with most of the break out courses, families had time to connect. Day care was provided for children, allowing spouses to bond and share in the process without distractions. 

The session, "How I See It," hosted by (ret) Col. Terry Larkin, gave couples a chance to share some of the anxiety and uncertainty that comes in an overseas deployment.

"It seems odd but often one of the biggest periods of disconnection between two people is right before they leave," said Larkin. "When memories should be being made, there is often silence and confusion."

For the Marcus family, this breakout session allowed them to participate within a larger group, where they could contrast each other's feelings and perspectives while getting feedback from others about to deploy.

"It has been hard as he has gone back and forth more than once, from being on the deployment list to being the alternate and back on the list to leave," said Mrs. Marcus about her husband's status.

Other sessions allowed lighter moments such as, the "Four Lenses" workshop, to a yoga lesson, or time to share in one-on-one conversation.

Legal assistance was provided for nearly everyone in attendance as Tech. Sgt. Brandon Foy, a paralegal assigned to the 142nd Fighter Wing JAG office, was busy drafting documents throughout the weekend.

"This is a large group so the demands are keeping all of us moving pretty quick," he said. "We did a great deal of paper work in advance of this weekend, so that way when someone comes in, we have a good start with their documents."

By having the event in the heart of the Cascade Mountains, family members could enjoy a hike or bike ride along the Deschutes River or enjoy dinner and time away from home relaxing by the pool later in the afternoon of each day.

During the close of the weekend, YRRP coordinator James Owens, asked members to take a survey of their weekend's experience. The results were fairly evenly split for those attending the three days. Whether it was time away from home, to the specialized events in the program, or well as just enjoying family time, there seemed to be something for everyone.

"These surveys are important because they allow us to keep building on the program based on what members feel are important and what they would like to see in future [Yellow Ribbon] events," Owens told the group.

As members turned in items and departed the Great Hall to return home, the quiet building held, for a brief moment, a shared soft echo of two generations who trained in the same building nearly 70 years removed. 'Camp Abbot' had once again provided an engaging atmosphere to prepare Oregon citizens and service members for their overseas military duties.