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Minnesota National Guard
Our challenge isn't warrior-to-citizen, it's citizen-to-warrior

What our returning service members can teach us about civic participation

"If a nation does not educate its warriors to be philosophers, nor its philosophers to be warriors, its philosophy will be crafted by cowards and its wars fought by fools”

This quote from Michael Hartoonian, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota, got me to thinking recently What if we substituted “citizens” for “philosophers” in this sentence? What's the relationship between warriors and citizens, and how do the two inform each other and our democracy?

There are aspects of the warrior mindset that our civic life and democracy desperately need right now And there are lessons that we can all learn from our service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan as together we work for reintegration into civilian life

It is not a job we have always done successfully—and we're not doing it as well as we could right now Read the headlines about the poor quality of care at our veterans homes Look at the percentage of homeless who are Vietnam vets Consider what the federal government did to Minnesota's own Red Bull Brigade—effectively denying them enhanced benefits after extensive duty by discharging them just one day early Our interview with two returning veterans in this issue of the Minnesota Journal indicates that we don't sufficiently value the employment skills of returning service members Given the quality of health care available to returning vets, the Army's new slogan, “An Army of One,” appears to mean that you are on your own if you return home injured I fear the potential for crime, abuse, and suicide among vets if we continue to get this “welcome home” wrong

But we can get it right, by using their skills and knowledge and the lessons they have learned fighting for democracy in another country to strengthen our democracy and civic infrastructure here at home And we honor their service to our country by doing so

Citizens as warriors

Our veterans' experiences working together in difficult and dangerous circumstances can teach us all something about what it means to fight for a common purpose despite enormous odds and personal differences How can we apply these lessons to help us overcome our petty partisan differences and single-issue tendencies?

We can learn from them about adaptability and doing whatever it takes to achieve a mission to help us make the difficult political and policy transformations needed to improve our schools, our health care delivery system, and our roads and transit systems

The military is no democracy, but it is a system that values accurate information and informed decision making How can we use those skills to argue better and solve problems collectively?

We can also learn from our vets about courage and leadership Policy problems and civic obstacles seem less insurmountable when compared to life-and-death experiences overseas

Warriors as civilians

As a group, the sheer number of returning Soldiers is likely to strain our social service and health care systems But the failings these demands are likely to expose will only highlight the systemic policy changes that we should make anyway

Our social service systems too often treat people as passive consumers instead of people with the real capacity to become well and contribute to our economy and society Our medical systems need dramatic transformation to improve cost, quality, and access, and we need a new health delivery system to replace our system of medical services

Our post-secondary and retraining programs are inadequate to meet the economic demands ahead for veterans and for society in general Many of these military men and women put their life on the line because it was the best way to pay for an education We need to make sure they receive the benefit they have earned, and we need to remake the system so that military service isn't the only option for low-income students who want to attend college

Civic organizations everywhere, including the Citizens League, need to make it easier for returning vets to participate in civic life and to build their civic capacity and policy skills

These returning service men and women can provide us with the catalyst we need to transform our policy and practices to better meet the challenges ahead

An inter-generational opportunity

We've learned from our returning veterans before—with tremendous success The generation returning from the Mideast now is part of a new emerging “civic generation” that has more in common with the World War II generation than with Generation X or the Baby Boomers Their civic optimism and their commitment to civic roles and responsibilities mirror their grandparents more than their parents

This Greatest Generation, along with veterans from Korea and Vietnam, returned from war to be “builders” They built new institutions and organizations, including the Citizens League, that transformed Minnesota and improved our quality of life and economic success

I hope this new generation of service men and women return home to full participation in civic life Most of all, I hope that their warrior mentality helps transform our politics, our policy, and our democracy in the process

by Sean Kershaw
MN Journal

Article source: http://www.citizensleague.org/publications/journal/

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Red Bulls Kickoff Division Warfighter

Posted: 2018-06-13  01:38 PM
DIV WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - "A Warfighter is an exercise that allows the Division to evaluate their ability to maneuver assets in a battle," said Master Sgt. Greg Weaver, the Operations Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge for the Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion. "It is designed to focus on particular areas and specific objectives to be evaluated or tested."

The Division has geared its' planning and training efforts in preparation for Warfighter since July 2017. Coordinating transportation for Soldiers and equipment was often on the mind of Maj. David Johansson, the logistics officer for the 34th ID. With the coordination of Johansson and his team, troops and equipment all converged on Camp Atterbury, enlisting the help of 89 railcars, 280 tractor-trailers, and nearly 50 buses for the movement.

"I like to say my job is to 'quiet the noise'". Johansson continued, "The noise being a real life logistical problem that could impede the exercise."

Minnesota-based aviation unit takes part in Warfighter Exercise

Posted: 2018-06-08  11:59 AM
34ECAB WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - More than 150 Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade are here participating in a multi-echelon training event, Warfighter Exercise 18-5, May 30 to June 15.

The exercise, which is part live and part virtual, is testing the St. Paul, Minnesota-based aviation unit's ability to conduct operations and mission command in a high-intensity, complex operating environment. Soldiers are being challenged to take decisive action as they focus on air-ground operations -- or synchronizing and integrating aviation operations into the scheme of maneuver planned and conducted by forces on the ground.

In this case, the units on the ground are being commanded by the Rosemount, Minnesota-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, which is also participating in the exercise.

148th Fighter Wing hosts STEM program for Duluth-area students

Posted: 2018-06-05  08:52 AM
Starbase Duluth DULUTH, Minn. - Dozens of community and industry leaders passionate about helping children become more engaged in science, technology, engineering and math gathered at the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth, Minn., May 24, 2018, to see what STARBASE Minnesota Duluth is doing for young students in the area.

STARBASE is a Department of Defense youth program that engages students in STEM studies. The program began in 1991, and STARBASE Minnesota was founded in 1993 in St. Paul, which expanded to Duluth in July 2017.

Currently, the school program is open to fifth-grade students, said Charity S. Rupp, the director of STARBASE Minnesota Duluth. The summer camp will serve students in 4-6th grade. Eventually, she hopes the program will expand into STARBASE 2.0 to serve middle school students as an after school program during the academic school year.

Minnesota National Guard leaders visit traveling tribute in Austin

Posted: 2018-05-22  10:16 AM
Traveling Wall AUSTIN, Minn. - A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was on display May 16-20, in Austin and leaders of the 347th Regional Support Group took the opportunity to visit during the event's closing ceremony.

The display, dubbed the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, was hosted by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Austin and featured a near-replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C.

"It was an honor to be part of this humbling and moving tribute to our Vietnam veterans," said Col. Stephen Schemenauer. "The traveling Vietnam Wall is a powerful display, and this event provided an opportunity to meet, and thank, service members from WWII to present-day conflicts. Regardless of their branch of service, or the era or conflict in which they served, we all share a common bond."

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