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Minnesota National Guard
Veterans Reintegration Seminar

The Veterans Reintegration Seminar was held at the International Chef's Culinary Center in Burnsville, Minn on Jan 30th

The City of Burnsville, Senator John Doll, the Minnesota National Guard Reintegration Team and Dakota Country Veterans Services held the seminar to educate business owners, employers, religious affiliates, education representatives and community service personnel on the past, current and future needs of Minnesota National Guardsman returning from combat

"It is not just those who have been away who are affected, but it is their friends, families, their employers and churches," remarked Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz "They need us to help and given them support and be their safety net"

"Citizen to warrior is a long process," said Chaplin Joel Severson He explained to his breakout group at the seminar about the six month training period that the citizen Soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team went through before deploying to Iraq "Transitioning from warrior to citizens is also a long process," remarked Severson

Col Kevin Gerdes, the Minnesota National Guard Personnel Director, spoke about his personal reintegration process and problems he faced when he returned from Iraq

"The job which I would get up at 6am for and stay as late as I could without getting into trouble, didn't excite me anymore"¦I had to force myself to get out of bed," Col Gerdes explained to listeners at the seminar

Col Gerdes also discussed that five months after returning, his wife finally approached him and explained that he was not the same person that left and they needed to seek help

When active duty military members come back from deployments, they have a network of counselors, doctors and employers that understand their needs are readily available on their base The Guard has members that come back and live in counties throughout the state and the upper Midwest and may not have the appropriate sources available in their town

The Mayor of Burnsville and spouse of a Vietnam War Veteran understands the importance of holding an event that focuses on educating the members of the community about the importance of working with National Guard members coming back from deployment in a warzone "It doesn't matter if you have three or 30 military members coming back from war, it's the right thing to do," said Mayor Kautz

Participants of the seminar ranged from business owners to community service members and found the information given throughout the night beneficial

"All over the metro area we are dealing with returning veterans more and more," said Brian Bye, a police officer from Burnsville "They are having trouble dealing with family members, alcohol or other issues"

"It was a lot of information that I didn't know about especially through the county," said Bye "Like the Veterans Link (VETLINKS), it is more specialized than just us referring them to counseling, they have the background that a veterans would need"

"Military members need to know that their community can be used a resource if they want help," said Mayor Kautz

Breakout sessions that participants could choose from included: employers perspective, families perspective, military kids perspective, clergy perspective and community services St Cloud is expected to hold a similar event in March For more information about the Minnesota National Guard visit http://www.MinnesotaNationalGuard.org
Photo Gallery: Jan. 30, Veterans Reintegration Seminar

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