In New York, the NY National Guard, NY Army National Guard, NY Air National Guard, the New York Guard, and NY Naval Militia report to The New York State Division of Military & Naval Affairs (http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/index.php).
Conceived in 2007 and implemented in April 2008 by Major General Joseph Taluto, the adjutant general and commander of the New York National Guard, the New York Army National Guard Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program aims to make it easier for National Guard combat veterans to transition from full-time Soldier to Citizen Soldier again (http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/family/reintegration.php).
Under this program, Soldiers are required to attend paid-assemblies 30 and 60 days after their return from a combat zone. Their families are encouraged to attend as well. The sessions are held in a non-threatening, non-military environment – a really nice hotel – to provide Soldiers and families with the opportunity to share experiences and talk frankly with each other and counselors about their experiences. These Soldiers are put back in touch with people who understand their experiences at about the time the “honeymoon phase” of their homecoming starts to fade.
At two months, there are briefings on anger management, substance abuse, gambling, financial management and other topics. Ever Soldier sits down one-on-one with a VA-certified counselor during the 60-Day sessions. This enables the soldier to get help for whatever issues or problems they have identified. The state Department of Labor has begun conducting career fairs at the 60-day reintegration events as well. The goal is to help Soldiers find new jobs, if needed.
At the 90-day interval the Soldiers return to regular drilling status and report to their Armory for medical checks and additional briefings.
While many states are putting together reintegration programs, New York also focuses on the process of helping a unit get back into the rhythm of National Guard duty. The training schedule for the first year after return from a combat zone is provided to the unit, making it easier for the leadership to hit the ground running.
If your state doesn’t provide such a comprehensive program, tell them about what New York is doing.
Remember… “Let No Veteran Ever Stand Alone!”
— Regards, Walt Schmidt, VSO