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Yellow Ribbon session focuses on improved communication

Erin T. King (left) leads Staff St. Chalcea Maggs (center) and Master Sgt. Alex Murray in a communication exercise July 25, 2015, at an Air Force Reserve Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event in Orlando, Florida. Maggs and Murray are both assigned to the 911th Aeromedical Evacation Squadron at Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station in Pennsylvania. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aja Heiden)

Erin T. King (left) leads Staff St. Chalcea Maggs (center) and Master Sgt. Alex Murray in a communication exercise July 25, 2015, at an Air Force Reserve Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event in Orlando, Florida. Maggs and Murray are both assigned to the 911th Aeromedical Evacation Squadron at Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station in Pennsylvania. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aja Heiden)

Domonique Powell (left) and her husband, Staff Sgt. Jabez Powell, participate in a body language exercise during a communication class at an Air Force Reserve Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event July 25, 2015, in Orlando, Florida. Jabez Powell, who recently returned from his first deployment, is assigned to the 916th Maintenance Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aja Heiden)

Domonique Powell (left) and her husband, Staff Sgt. Jabez Powell, participate in a body language exercise during a communication class at an Air Force Reserve Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program event July 25, 2015, in Orlando, Florida. Jabez Powell, who recently returned from his first deployment, is assigned to the 916th Maintenance Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Aja Heiden)

ORLANDO, Florida --

An Air Force wife taught Airmen and their loved ones about using “positive sandwiches” when discussing problems and looking for solutions during an Air Force Reserve Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program training event July 24-26 here. 

"Say something positive to your loved one," speaker Erin T. King said during the Renegotiating a New Normal session, which focused on communication after a military deployment. "Say a positive thing, address the issue that needs to be handled, and then say something positive again."

Approximately 300 Airmen and their guests attended the Yellow Ribbon event, which prepares them for upcoming deployments and provided support for Airmen transitioning back to civilian life. In King’s class, post-deployment Airmen and their families learn that they may experiences communication issues and role changes after the reservist returns from extended duty.

"We learned the importance of renegotiation as many times as it's necessary,” said Staff Sgt. Jabez Powell from the 916th Maintenance Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. "It's not just one time, it's reevaluating the situation and adjusting. Communication is the key and without communication unnecessary arguments or hurt feelings may arise.”

Instructor King has been through four deployments with her husband. She told participants that she experienced firsthand the need for renegotiation when he returned from each of them.

Body language was another topic she covered.

“We learned that positive body language means giving eye contact, head nods and good posture,” said Powell’s wife, Domonique. “Negative body language is looking away, making faces, arms folded, rolling eyes, and defensive posture,” she said. “When you’re communicating, let your partner know you are listening or interested in what they are saying by giving positive body language.”

Jabez Powell  wondered how we would adjust back to the way things were before a recent deployment, his first.

“We would definitely recommend this class not only to other post-deployment Airmen but to pre-deplorers as well. The benefits we received from this class were understanding that renegotiation doesn't have any limits,” he said. “It helped us look at it from that angle and to better communicate. We would definitely return to another Yellow Ribbon event.”

Yellow Ribbon promotes the well-being of reservists and their loved ones by connecting them with resources before and after deployments. It 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.

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