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Shaheen amendment inspired by successful NH pilot program that provides personalized care for soldiers and families

(Washington, D.C.)U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen today introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010 to evaluate and improve the nationwide Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program-a support program for National Guardsmen, Reservists and their families.  The amendment also calls on the Department of Defense to identify and incorporate lessons learned from programs that have expanded beyond Yellow Ribbon, including a successful New Hampshire pilot program that identified the need for more personalized counseling and support services for National Guard and Reservists and their families.

"As we call on the National Guard and Reserves to protect the nation at home and abroad, I call on my colleagues in the Senate to protect these brave men and women and their families to the best of our ability," said Shaheen. "We need to make sure our policies and programs are worthy of the great sacrifice of our citizen-soldiers, and expanding the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program will provide the support these men and women need to prepare for deployment and return to their civilian life."

The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, a nationwide program coordinated by the Department of Defense, provides important support services to Guard and Reserve members through  informational events and activities throughout the pre-deployment and deployment phases, as well as 30, 60, and 90 days after their return. However, the New Hampshire National Guard found that these programs do not always meet the needs of all service members and their families.

The pilot program developed by the New Hampshire National Guard assigns a "care coordinator" to each Guard member and Reservist, and develops a personalized plan to ensure they are ready for deployment and are able to transition back to civilian life once they return. The program is funded through a unique partnership with the New Hampshire National Guard, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Easter Seals in New Hampshire and 22 other civilian and veteran service organizations.

Shaheen's amendment was introduced following the recent announcement that more than 1,100 soldiers from the 197th Fires Brigades are expected to deploy to the Middle East in the coming year. This deployment, the largest in the state Guard's history, will mark the second, third or fourth deployment for many soldiers.