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Speaker encourages deployers to turn negatives into positives

Ryspodii “Sporty” King addresses an Air Force Reserve audience during a Yellow Ribbon Program training event Jan. 25, 2014, in Hilton Head Island, S.C. Yellow Ribbon promotes the well-being of reservists and their loved ones by connecting them with resources before and after deployments. King, whose topic was “Deployment L.I.F.E. (Lessons Intended for Everyone),” has spoken at Yellow Ribbon events for two and half years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Terrica Y. Jones)

Ryspodii “Sporty” King addresses an Air Force Reserve audience during a Yellow Ribbon Program training event Jan. 25, 2014, in Hilton Head Island, S.C. Yellow Ribbon promotes the well-being of reservists and their loved ones by connecting them with resources before and after deployments. King, whose topic was “Deployment L.I.F.E. (Lessons Intended for Everyone),” has spoken at Yellow Ribbon events for two and half years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Terrica Y. Jones)

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Pre- and post-deployment Airmen attending Yellow Ribbon Program training events often hear an inspirational message from a speaker who desires to have reservists "come, share and plan to leave with something."

"I hear what I am saying when I'm telling people to be positive," said Ryspodii "Sporty" King, who has participated since 2011 in Yellow Ribbon events sponsored by the Air Force Reserve. "I live what I say and I believe."

King makes suggestions to help Airmen navigate challenging situations they face, including balancing family, work and their military careers.

"I believe that we learn through repetition as we become more focused on who we are (and) we learn better because we start to understand different ways to apply the message to suit ourselves," he said. "It reminds people that we are individuals and yet are collectively strong."

Yellow Ribbon, which promotes the well-being of reservists and their families by connecting them with resources before and after deployments, 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. Speakers such as King address hundreds of Air Force reservists and their loved ones who accompany them to training weekends around the country.

"He's a dynamic speaker that appeals to our demographics with pre- and post-deployers, and his materials are beneficial because he walks the talk," said Senior Master Sgt. Antonio Briseno, a Yellow Ribbon event manager who planned a January training weekend in South Carolina that featured King.

The speaker said his repeated involvement with reservists has given him a higher level of respect for service members and he enjoys meeting them after his engagements. He recalls being moved when a father approached to tell him that he made his daughter's deployment easier.

"I put comments in my presentation from Airmen to share with Airmen because their words are more powerful," said King.

"The messages he gives in general are about being positive and good and are reinforcement of the thoughts you have," said Technical Sgt. Warren Dill, a firefighter with the 94th Civil Engineering Squadron at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga.

Briseno, the event manager, said King's energy and humor keeps audiences engaged.

"Having those talents sets the tone and the mood. People feel relaxed with their spouses, which is good for the Yellow Ribbon Program," he said. "I hope people get from him a positive outlook and tools to help cope with difficult issues."