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Dragana Soteber, left, and Allison Tucker, both 1st Battalion, 33rd Field Artillery Regiment Family Readiness Group members, check out the kitchen Friday at the Yellow Ribbon Room in Bamberg, Germany. The room is designed to provide a more efficient meeting place for family readiness groups.

Dragana Soteber, left, and Allison Tucker, both 1st Battalion, 33rd Field Artillery Regiment Family Readiness Group members, check out the kitchen Friday at the Yellow Ribbon Room in Bamberg, Germany. The room is designed to provide a more efficient meeting place for family readiness groups. (Rick Emert / S&S)

BAMBERG, Germany — The 98th Area Support Group is making it a little easier for family readiness groups to meet while soldiers are deployed to Iraq.

Three base support battalions in the 98th ASG have opened Yellow Ribbon rooms to give the groups facilities to hold meetings. Three are currently open, within the 279th, 280th and 417th base support battalions. Another will open for the 235th Base Support Battalion in either Illesheim or Katterbach in mid-January.

The rooms, also called deployment readiness centers, were built primarily for the readiness group meetings, but also may be used for FRG-sponsored activities, according to Michelle Iler, the contact for Bamberg’s Yellow Ribbon Room.

“They can have pajama parties, all-night movies for the girls, or any event like that as long as it is an FRG-sponsored event,” Iler said. “We want to get away from the groups using this facility just for meetings.”

The two-room building at Ledward Barracks in Schweinfurt includes a video teleconferencing room, three computers with Internet access, a conference room and play facilities for children. It opened Dec. 5.

The room at Leighton Barracks in Würzburg opened Friday and has features similar to those at the Ledward Barracks Yellow Ribbon Room.

Warner Barracks’ Yellow Ribbon Room, which opened Dec. 9, has a homey look to it. There is a meeting area set up like a living room with a wide-screen TV and several sofas and chairs. The conference area resembles a dining room with seating for up to 30 people. There is also a full kitchen. Although there is no video teleconferencing capabilities, there are five Internet-ready computers. For spouses who bring their children to the meeting, there is a playroom with a wide screen TV with DVD player, VCR and video games, as well as arts and crafts and toys. There is also an outdoor play area for children.

While readiness group members from the 1st Battalion, 33rd Field Artillery Regiment in Bamberg were “ohhing” and “ahhing” over each feature of their new Yellow Ribbon Room, it is the total package that will improve things for FRGs in the communities.

“Before this opened, the groups would meet anywhere they could fit — the chapel, the elementary school or high school,” Iler said.

“It’s great to have this location set aside just for us,” said Allison Tucker, a member of the 1st Battalion, 33rd Field Artillery Regiment Family Readiness Group.

The at-home atmosphere is expected to enhance the meetings as the groups discuss issues concerning spouses whose soldiers are deployed to Iraq.

“We usually have our meetings in a really cold and impersonal environment at the battalion,” said Veronica Crawford, also from the 1st Battalion readiness group. “This is really comfortable, and the children will stay occupied.”

Reporter Steve Liewer contributed to this report.

Yellow Ribbon rooms have it all

The Yellow Ribbon Room at Bamberg, Germany, may be used for family readiness group-sponsored activities, such as all-night movies, for spouses left behind while soldiers are deployed.

They all have their own features. For example, the at-home atmosphere at the Warner Barracks Yellow Ribbon Room in Bamberg offers a meeting area set up like a living room with a wide-screen TV and several sofas and chairs.

The rooms are expected to enhance FRG meetings as groups discuss issues concerning spouses whose soldiers are deployed to Iraq.

— Rick Emert

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