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Friday, July 30, 2010

'On Time' unveils Yellow Ribbon Room

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hi. – Family Readiness Group (FRG) leaders from all batteries in 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment here attended ribbon-cutting ceremony June 16 for the battalion’s Yellow Ribbon Room, a room filled with amenities providing families a way to keep in touch with their deployed Soldiers.

“It was about setting aside a place for families to connect with their Soldiers in a comfortable environment,” said Emily Harrison, the battalion FRG support assistant for 2-11.

The room is visually appealing giving it a more welcoming atmosphere. New couches are positioned near the flat-screen television which plays DVDs, giving spouses a way to entertain their children. If the movies don’t suffice, there are plenty of toys to choose from as well. A vibrant mural of Molly Pitcher, painted by Sgt. Ray Duffy of Headquarters Battery, 2-11 depicts Pitcher assisting artillerymen on a battlefield.

A faded blanket with the 2-11 crest sewn as the centerpiece hangs by the door, proudly displaying the names of each battery in the battalion as well as “King of Battle!”, the Field Artillery motto. The blanket’s vintage appearance suggests a unit rich with history and esprit de corps. Pictures from recent events the battalion has participated in rest on a shelf above a row of computers, showing pride for the unit still runs deep to this day.

Three computers sit on a desk against the wall with webcams and video-chat capabilities through a program called Skype that will allow family members to communicate face to face with their deployed Soldiers. The custom desk was assembled from scratch by Sgt. First Class Paul Dyess, the Rear Detachment Noncommissioned Officer-in-Charge (NCOIC), and Spec. Brady West from B Battery, 2-11.

Though it was quite a group effort, with support from battery FRG advisors and soldiers within the battalion, Maj. Mark Sherkey, the JOB TITLE for 2-11, oversaw the entire project every step of the way. The battalion Supply shop (S4) and the Communications shop (S6) also assisted in providing equipment and connectivity of electronics.

The room is open to all family, friends and supporters of the battalion. Hours of operation are still being negotiated, but usage is unlimited provided that everyone has an opportunity to enjoy the amenities.

Harrison said the concept for the Yellow Ribbon Room has seen practical application throughout the brigade since 2006, however not all units had them. She also said that a lot of discussion went into planning where the room would be and what the finished product would look like, but once a plan of action was put together the whole process only took about two months.

The FRG has ideas for a second, separate room that would be ideal for meetings such as bible study or various support groups. This second room would also have an adjacent playroom to keep children entertained while spouses or other family members are busy. Plans for this room will remain on the backburner until the battalion departs the island.

Projects like 2-11’s Yellow Ribbon Room show just how important family is to Soldiers from all units in the brigade. Commanders and junior enlisted alike know that there will be difficult times during the upcoming deployment, but communication with loved ones will keep morale high, help Soldiers accomplish their missions and come home safely.

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