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Parents of deployer: “We won’t be broken. She will grow”

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Courtney Richardson
  • 944th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Deployments are often stressful events for Reserve Airmen and their loved ones, especially first-time deployments.

To help ease the stress, the Air Force Reserve Command’s Yellow Ribbon program hold nationwide events to connect deployers and their loved ones with resource that help them before, during and after deployment.

Major Gen. Bret Larson, the commander of the 22nd Air Force at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, spoke with guests at a Yellow Ribbon event in Los Angeles, California, Dec. 18.

“Your resiliency and your family’s resiliency is what gets you here, what keeps you here, and is our strength as a U.S. Air Force,” he said. “The fact that you can pick up your life, operate in austere locations and know that things are being taken care of at home is really important.”

Larson continued the program introduction with explaining what the purpose of the conference and why those in attendance are vital to mission success.

“We want you to do your best job on the road for our nation’s defense, but you can’t if things are not right at home,” he said.

Among the event’s audience was Senior Airman Kyum Lee from the 302nd Logistic Readiness Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. She attended the event with her parents.

“I will be deploying to the Middle East in early 2022 and luckily I made it on the list to attend the conference,” Kyum said. “Being able to attend this conference really shows me that the Air Force Reserve cares about me and my family.”

Kyum has an older brother who is also in the Air Force Reserve, but she will be the first to deploy.

“I invited my parents to come because we were all nervous about me deploying,” she said. “I really wanted to spend time with them and I wanted them to learn what the Air Force Reserve is like.”

Kyum’s parents were concerned the deployment would weaken the communication and the relationship they have with their daughter.

“The reality is that I’ve been really reluctant to accept that she is leaving because I felt like there was going to be some brokenness and that our relationship will never be the same,” her father Sung Lee said.

But after listening to several Yellow Ribbon presentations, Kyum’s father said he had a change of heart.

“Now I feel through the conference that we are going to be ready. We won’t be broken. She will grow,” he said. “This conference gave us resources to help all of us prepare. We can talk about how she can better herself like with school and saving money. I feel like we are going to have a stronger relationship before she leaves and while she’s gone.”

Kyum admitted that the in-person event provided her and her family comfort.

“It helps that we are in a room full of people who are going through the different phases of a deployment,” she said. “We are not alone and that lessens the fear.”

Kyum and her parents said the event provide tips on expectations management, communication skills and building better relationships during deployment.

Kyum’s mother Min wasn’t sure her busy schedule would allow her to attend the event but was glad she found the time.

“I am very sad that about her leaving but I’m proud to see her in a place like this,” Min said, translated by Kyum. “I am very happy that I can make it.”

Kyum said she feels more at peace with her deployment, especially now that the Yellow Ribbon event helped her family become more comfortable with the Air Force Reserve.

“Being here definitely gave us a reality check about what to expect before I go, but I have a lot more confidence about leaving, and I’m happy that my parents know we aren’t alone,” she said.