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Balloon challenge provides colorful lesson for military families

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe
  • 439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Master Sgt. Robert Davis and his wife, Angelique, know all about pressures in today's society. They proved it through juggling them while standing in front of 648 of their fellow reservists and their loved ones here July 26.

The couple from Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., succeeded in catching the most important balloons that symbolized life's constants and pressures during a challenge early in the weekend's Yellow Ribbon training event sponsored by the Air Force Reserve. The program promotes the well-being of reservists and those close to them by connecting them with resources before and after military deployments.
 
Angelique Davis said she and her husband had no stage fright. They volunteered for the symbolic demonstration during the morning briefings.

"They just asked if we'd go up in front of the people on Saturday," said Robert Davis, a production supervisor with the 482nd Fighter Wing. "We're group leaders in a church, and we're used to juggling our dual careers."

Following a series of briefings and the Yellow Ribbon keynote speaker, the Psychological Health Advocacy Program portion of training got under way in a hotel ballroom. Representatives brought a huge bag of balloons to the center stage.
 
"The white ones were the most important ones to catch," said Angelique Davis, a medical recovery specialist with southern Florida-area hospitals.
 
PHAP outreach specialist Rolando Edwards, in Orlando from his home base at Dobbins ARB, Ga., confirmed Angelique Davis' priority.

"The white balloons represented what are the three constants for most reservists: (unit training assemblies), civilian jobs, and families," he said.

Ernest Farmer, another PHAP outreach specialist from Dobbins ARB, threw red balloons into the air above the Davises. These represented life's other stressors such as car trouble and post-traumatic stress disorder. The last trio of balloons signaled help that comes from the Air Force. Besides PHAP, they include first sergeants, chaplains and the Airmen and Family Readiness Center. And wingmen.
 
The Davises couldn't possibly catch all the balloons and laughter reverberated in the giant ballroom as they struggled to keep them aloft. Soon, though, those in the audience helped capture the other balloons -- and the essence of the Yellow Ribbon program's intent: Taking care of Citizen Airmen and their families.

Yellow Ribbon 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 6,000 reservists and family members in education benefits, health care, retirement information and more. Eighteen events will be held around the nation this fiscal year.