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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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Iowa Red Bull takes command of 34th Infantry Division

Posted: 2017-12-13  10:11 AM
Minnesota National Guard JOHNSTON, Iowa - Brig. Gen. Benjamin J. Corell, Deputy Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard, assumed command of the 34th Infantry Division "Red Bulls" during a ceremony in Rosemount, Minnesota, on December 9, 2017.

Headquartered in Minnesota, the division has been commanded almost-exclusively by members of the Minnesota National Guard since 1968.

"Typically there's been very few people who have been allowed to command the 34th Infantry Division that didn't come from the state of Minnesota," Corell said.

Minnesota-based aviation unit honors storied division, enters into new, 'expeditionary' era

Posted: 2017-12-12  11:29 AM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade (ECAB), who recently celebrated a year full of achievements, have embraced a new name: Red Devils.

The St. Paul-based unit hosted its annual aviation brigade ball Dec. 9, at the Envision Event Center in Oakdale, Minnesota, where the unit's new logo was unveiled.

Soldiers of the 34th ECAB, which falls under and supports the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, will continue to wear the Red Bull insignia on their uniforms. However, they will now be known and referred to as the Red Devils, a name that pays homage to the division's historical accomplishments and fierce warfighting.

Minnesota Nice Extends to Puerto Rico

Posted: 2017-12-08  12:08 PM
Minnesota National Guard CAMP SANTIAGO, Puerto Rico - It has been more than two months since Hurricane Maria stuck Puerto Rico, leaving a trail of disaster behind it. The island was in dire need of some extra help. More than 230 Air National Guardsmen from 29 states have been deployed to the island and are helping in any way they can.

Eleven of those Airmen are from the Minnesota National Guard's 148th Fighter Wing out of Duluth, Minn. and the 133rd Airlift Wing out of St. Paul, Minn., are no exception in their desire to lend a helping hand. They have been at Camp Santiago, Puerto Rico, since before Thanksgiving and will leave around mid-December. Their mission is to feed military and civilian hurricane relief workers, giving them the much-needed fuel to complete their mission throughout the day.

Governor Mark Dayton installs new Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General

Posted: 2017-11-04  04:16 PM
TAG installation ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton administered the oath of office to Maj. Gen. Jon A. Jensen, installing him as the Minnesota National Guard's 31st Adjutant General during a ceremony in St. Paul, November 4, 2017.

"General Jensen has been a tremendous leader of the Minnesota National Guard throughout his years of dedicated service," said Governor Dayton. "He has served in two top leadership positions, as the Commanding General of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, and also as the Chief of Staff at the Guard's Joint Force Headquarters. I am confident that he will continue to provide the same outstanding leadership as his predecessor, General Rick Nash."

Jensen most recently served as the Commanding General of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division. He previously held positions as Deputy Commanding General, United States Army Africa and Southern European Task Force, Minnesota National Guard Director of the Joint Staff and Minnesota National Guard Assistant Adjutant General - Army.

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