Gentile brings First Sergeant experience to Yellow Ribbon program

  • Published
  • By A1C Harrison Withrow
  • 434 ARW

Since the days of Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the image of a yellow ribbon has instilled phrases such as “bring our troops home” or “support our troops” often donned on vehicles. But today, and since its inception in 2008, ‘Yellow Ribbon’ means something much more to the 1.5 million Guard, Reservists and their family members.

Marking its 11th year in 2019, Yellow Ribbon began 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.

Master Sgt. Jarred Gentile was recently selected as the new 434th Air Refueling Wing Yellow Ribbon representative.

Gentile, who also serves as the First Sergeant. for the 434th Maintenance Group, said that despite being very new to the Yellow Ribbon program, his leadership experience offers him an advantage in the role.

“One of the traits you need as a First Sergeant is the ability to jump into a situation and start swimming,” he said. “I can typically look at a situation and understand who the right players are that can get things done, and in a program like this where you’re working together with so many different groups.

“It is essential to be able to see how all the pieces fit together.”

Yellow Ribbon promotes the well-being of Reservists and their families by connecting them with resources before and after deployments.

“There’s actually a bit of overlap between the duties of a Yellow Ribbon representative and a first sergeant,” said Gentile. “Both roles are about taking care of our people and getting members the information they need.

“In my Yellow Ribbon role, having more opportunity to get that information out to family members is great,” he added.

Gentile emphasized the importance of getting critical knowledge to the families of service members who are deploying or returning home.

“A lot of us attend briefing after briefing and we spend hours doing online training, and there’s so much that when it’s over we just forget about it,” he said. “A lot of information never reaches the member’s spouse or children, but it’s important that they have these resources, which is what Yellow Ribbon provides.”

Gentile was not ready to say just yet what sort of changes he might bring about as Grissom’s representative.

“Right now I’m still observing and getting a baseline for how the program operates,” said Gentile. “I don’t want to come in and say we’re going to do things my way without knowing what I’m talking about, but once I see how all the pieces fit together, then I can start identifying areas which could use improvement.”

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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