Preparing to leave

TUPELO – Soldiers receive plenty of training before going overseas, but now their families are getting training to prepare themselves for their soldiers’ deployment, too.
A Yellow Ribbon event, which teaches soldiers and their families about how to prepare for deployment, took place this weekend for the 155th Brigade Combat Team.
The unit has been training at Camp Shelby, and will return there on May 1 before leaving for Iraq in early June. The Family Readiness Group and other organizations gathered over the weekend to present the soldiers and their families with a host of information.
“What this event is about is to inform the family of benefits they have for them while (a soldier) is on active duty,” said Lt. Col. John Nipp with the 198th unit of Amory. “It’s just a great way to get all of this information in one setting.”
The Saturday-Sunday event covered a variety of topics such as the military’s insurance, youth programs, personal finances and marriage counseling. The military considers this preparedness important training, Nipp said.
“If a soldier has peace of mind that their family is taken care of, that makes them a better soldier,” he said.
Brad Davis, Family Readiness Support Assistant, said the weekend was a success.
“This is fantastic, as far as getting information out to the families,” he said.
Maj. Rob Edwards of Tupelo said the Yellow Ribbon event is helpful to soldiers because it gives them a wealth of information all in one place.
“Even I learned something new, about the youth programs,” he said, noting that the Family Readiness Group also assists with such programs. “My wife and I are thinking about getting our kids involved in martial arts.”
Spc. Tucker Cain of Iuka said he and his wife, Sharlie, found the weekend educational, even if it was a two-day event jam-packed with information.
“It’s been tiring, but it’s been good information,” Cain said.
This is Cain’s first trip to Iraq.
“I’m kind of nervous, because it will be my first deployment,” he said. “But I’m excited, too, because I want to experience that.”
This Yellow Ribbon event, which took place at the BancorpSouth Arena, was one of the largest in the state, with about 1,100 soldiers and their families attending. The Family Readiness Group is a community within the United States Army, the Army Reserve and the National Guard, and Yellow Ribbon events are still a relatively new kind of training for soliders and their families.
The soldiers have been thanking the organizers for the event, Nipp said.
“They say we should have had this years ago,” he said.

Sheena Barnett/Daily Journal