'Cardboard therapy' helps reservist's spouse

“Cardboard Steve” stands in for husband on several occasions during husband’s deployment.  (Photo courtesy of Janie Purvis)

“Cardboard Steve” stands in for husband on several occasions during husband’s deployment. (Photo courtesy of Janie Purvis)

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- For the past several years, the Yellow Ribbon Program has held events bringing together servicemembers and their families to gather information that assists them before and after their deployments. A Yellow Ribbon event held in Hilton Head Island, S.C., Jan. 24-26 was another opportunity for participants to share how they cope with their loved ones being deployed.

Janie Purvis, wife of Master Sgt. Steve Purvis, 445th Maintenance Group First Sergeant, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, shared how she kept herself in high spirits during her husband's deployment.

"As I was sitting and talking with friends about my husband I came up with 'Cardboard Steve,'" said Janie Purvis. "It was a picture he emailed me and I decided to blow it up, and place it on cardboard so I could take him around to different places with me, to make me feel like he was there. It was also fun."

"When you deploy you don't know how it really affects people back home," said Master Sgt. Purvis. "My wife is resilient and I'm glad she had an adventure,"

"During the Yellow Ribbon event, it is good for me to be around other military spouses who are going through the same thing," said Janie Purvis.

"Yellow Ribbon helps us with communication," said Master Sgt. Purvis. "Just because I was short on the phone during a deployment didn't mean something was wrong; we just have to be aware of operational security."

"I witnessed Airmen facing many challenges while deployed. The Yellow Ribbon Program is hugely beneficial to reservists because it prepares you for your deployment," he said. "The Yellow Ribbon event connected me to Airmen who were going to be on the same deployment."

"Cardboard Steve was therapeutic in that it brought fun and comedy to a situation," said Janie Purvis. "He was used to lighten things up."

"My advice to other spouses is to reach out to your friends because they don't always know," she said. "They are more supportive than you think and are willing to do things for you. Most people don't understand but they are willing to help."

The Yellow Ribbon Program began in 2008 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. Each year, the Air Force Reserve program trains 7,000 reservists and family members in education benefits, health care, retirement information and more.