Airman, retired Soldier father share tradition of service at Yellow Ribbon event
By Senior Airman Monica Ricci, 439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 09, 2015
WASHINGTON -- Albert Moreno remembers the day his youngest daughter walked into the living room and said she had to talk to him about something.
He shut off the television to give Cristina his full attention. To his surprise, she said she wanted to join the military. As a father, Moreno was shocked but, as an Army veteran, he was proud. He advised her to join the Air Force based on his observation of how positively the branch treated its Airmen.
“Dad, when do the accommodations and good food start?” now-Staff Sgt. Cristina Moreno remembers writing to him in one of the first letters she sent home from basic training. She’s now an Air Force Reserve vehicle maintenance specialist with the 507th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. Moreno said her desire to serve her country didn’t stop there, so she volunteered on more than one occasion to deploy. In June 2014, she finally got the chance to do so, working at the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia.
As Moreno settled into her deployed location, she faced a stigma as a reservist, she said.
“I felt like there is a stereotype against reservists before I got there, and that I had to work harder to prove myself to the active-duty Airmen," she said May 30 while attending Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Training in Washington, D.C., accompanied by her father. Yellow Ribbon promotes the well-being of reservists and their loved ones by connecting them with resources before and after deployments.
Moreno was unable to attend Yellow Ribbon training prior to heading overseas. While deployed, she said, she soon proved to herself that every little thing she had a hand in helped her understand “the big picture.”
“We would see (aircrews) come into the base and train,” Moreno said, “and then we would hear things on the news about the war shortly after and it was crazy to think without our vehicles, those planes wouldn’t take off.”
She had an emotional homecoming upon her return to the U.S. While happy to be reunited with family and friends, she said it was hard to come home and see that the world didn’t pause while she was away.
“When you get home you want to find your safe spot. It’s hard when things have changed," Moreno said. “It took a couple weeks of calling my best friends and talking for hours to transition home.”
Moreno enjoyed the 2-day post-deployment Yellow Ribbon training she received in Washington. The program 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. Each year, the Air Force Reserve program trains 7,000 reservists and those closest to them in education benefits, health care, retirement information and more.
The sergeant said attending it helped her reconnect with her father and helped her find out what resources are available to her.
“I wish I went to a pre-deployment event,” she said, “but now I hope I can help someone else here.”
Albert Moreno said he was impressed with the program. He said he had many experiences in the military during his 21-year-long career in the Army but that this type of resourceful homecoming was not one of them.
"We didn't have anything like this," he said. "We had a welcome back and a 'Enjoy your long weekend, see you Tuesday!'"