Fall 2009 Edition NJDMAVA Veterans

About NJ Veteran Journal:
The New Jersey Veteran Journal is an official publication of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and is intended to serve New Jersey's veterans, their families, friends and concerned individuals and groups. All correspondence should be sent to:

Veteran Journal Editor, NJDMAVA/PA, PO Box 340,
Trenton, NJ 08625-0340

‘Yellow Ribbon’ greets 50th in AC
By Sgt. Wayne Woolley, NJDMAVA/PA; graphic and photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Olsen, NJDMAVA/PA

After two months of tough training in Texas followed by 10 hard months in Iraq, the New Jersey Army National Soldiers of the 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Lawrenceville, got a chance to unwind with their families in Atlantic City.

It was the fi rst of three Yellow Ribbon re-integration events to help Citizen-Soldiers make the transition back to civilian life and learn about how their service in the combat zone has made them eligible for enhanced education, health and other benefits.

The Yellow Ribbon program is a year-old initiative sponsored by the Department

Chris Kulkosky, left, Veterans Service Training Officer with the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs discusses state and federal benefi ts with a 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Soldier. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Olsen, 177FW/PA.
of Defense and provides for three events within 90 days of the return of Soldiers from a combat deployment. The first event is to provide Soldiers with information on benefi ts. The second event focuses on their mental health and the fi nal reintegration event is for a comprehensive health screening. The Pentagon provided New Jersey with about $3 million for the Yellow Ribbon program.

The goal of the fi rst event in Atlantic City was to give the Soldiers and their families the ability to learn about their benefi ts in an informal setting. Many Soldiers with children brought them along.

Having his 2-year-old daughter Aimee in tow ensured that Spc. David Bennett had few dull moments. The 23-year-old alternated his time listening to briefi ngs and then turning the listening duties over to his wife whenever Aimee got restless and wanted to run in the hallways in the Convention Center.

“Having her here is actually relaxing for me … it kind of makes it less like a formal military event,” said Bennett, who served near Baghdad with the 328th Military Police Company of Cherry Hill.

Bennett, who is attending Rutgers University, said that at one of the briefings, he learned that he may be able to transfer some of his higher education benefi ts to his wife or daughter under the new enhanced GI Bill.

“Learning something like that makes coming here all the more worthwhile,” Bennett said.

In addition to learning about benefi ts, the Soldiers were able to attend a career exposition that featured nearly 100 employers and nearly 40 institutions of higher learning. The career exposition continued Monday when it opened to all military veterans.

Sgt. 1st Class Keith Johnson said he considered the banquet an extension of the welcome home that began with a parade in Trenton in June and has continued with events in towns across the state.

“The parade, the picnics, now this all kind of reminds you that people appreciate what we did,” Johnson said. “Everybody has been great to us.”

Since its inception in FY 08, this program has allocated almost $2 million
to reach and assist veterans in four principle areas:

OUTREACH                                                                             $160,000

Housing                                         $270,000
Subsistance                                    $155,000
Utilities                                            $45,000
Family Care                                     $55,000
Transportation (Primary Vehicle)        $40,000
Tuition                                             $45,000
Business Restart                               $40,000    


Total:                                                                                   $1,910,000