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Doctor keeps Yellow Ribbon in his handbag

Lt. Col. Charles Powell, 931st Air Reserve Wing flight doctor, McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, stands while Angeli, his wife, sits behind him clapping as deployers are recognized Aug 26 during a Yellow Ribbon event in Costa Mesa, Ca. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

Lt. Col. Charles Powell, 931st Air Reserve Wing flight doctor, McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, stands while Angeli, his wife, sits behind him clapping as deployers are recognized Aug 26 during a Yellow Ribbon event in Costa Mesa, Ca. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

Lt. Col. Charles Powell, 931st Air Reserve Wing flight doctor, McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, and his wife Angeli, pose for a photo Aug 27 during a Yellow Ribbon event in Costa Mesa, Ca. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

Lt. Col. Charles Powell, 931st Air Reserve Wing flight doctor, McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, and his wife Angeli, pose for a photo Aug 27 during a Yellow Ribbon event in Costa Mesa, Ca. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Lt. Col. Charles Powell was twice as old as some of his classmates when he went to officer’s training at age 49. He has had a busy career as an Air Force Reserve flight doctor in the ensuing seven years and recently returned from his third deployment.

“I’ll always look back on this period of my life and say, I got to serve my country, I was blessed with the opportunity, and I will never have any regrets,” said Powell, a member of the 931st Air Refueling Wing at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, and a physician as a civilian.

Powell and his wife, Angeli, attended Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program training Aug 26-28 in Southern California. Yellow Ribbon promotes the well-being of reservists and their loved ones by connecting them with resources before and after deployments.

The Powells have been to previous Yellow Ribbon events and found them helpful. After the doctor completed his second deployment, he and his wife realized they were having reintegration issues and learned how to deal with them through Yellow Ribbon, which began in 2008 following a congressional mandate for the Department of Defense to assist reservists and National Guard members in maintaining resiliency as they transition between their military and civilian roles.

“Adjusting to our schedule as a couple as opposed to just worrying about my schedule was a challenge we had to deal with,” he said. “I thought I possessed all the tools anyone would ever need to reintegrate perfectly.”

The couple said they recommend that anyone who is eligible to attend Yellow Ribbon should do so before and after deployments to learn about resources available to them.

At last weekend’s training, the Powells said they appreciated the advice from the event’s keynote speaker, Air Force Deputy Chief of Chaplains Brig. Gen. Steven A. Schaick, who encouraged attendees to “be generous, be positive and be satisfied.”

Powell first looked into joining the military when he was in his late 30s but assumed he was too old based on information he read about age requirements. More than a decade later, he met an Air Force recruiter at In His Image Family Residency medical training facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Powell is the associate residency director. The GI informed him that exceptions were made for qualified physicians. Powell applied and was accepted.

The doctor said his passion for helping others drove him to pursue a career in medicine and an officer’s commission. He said becoming a reservist is one of the best decisions he ever made.

“I have this opportunity to serve my country,” he said. “Not everyone gets (that).”