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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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Forging a path to career success

Posted: 2018-03-16  08:45 AM
Col. Angela Steward-Randle ST. PAUL, Minn. - Col. Angela Steward-Randle grew up in a military family - her father served in the Army on active duty - but it was a chance encounter with a friend at college that led her to want to make the military a career.

"My story is no different than many others," Steward-Randle, the Director of Human Resources, Manpower and Personnel for the Minnesota National Guard said. "I was in college and looking for financial resources to help pay for it."

Her college friend suggested they attend a summer training with the Reserve Officer Training Corps that had no obligation and could earn them some money. The friend never ended up going, but Steward-Randle did. After earning recognition as the top honor graduate and receiving an offer of a scholarship, she was hooked.

Minnesota Guardsman Receives Award for Combating Drugs in his Community

Posted: 2018-03-09  03:13 PM
Counterdrug WOODBURY, Minn. - Staff Sgt. Benjamin Kroll, an analyst with the Minnesota National Guard's Counterdrug Task Force who is assigned to work with the Hennepin County Sherriff's Office was recognized for his achievements as the Analyst of the Year during the 2018 Minnesota Association of Crime and Intelligence Analysts Training Symposium in Woodbury, Minnesota, March 7, 2018.

Through a partnership with Minnesota law enforcement agencies throughout the state, the Minnesota National Guard Counterdrug Task Force (MNCDTF) supports the anti-drug initiatives to counter all primary drug threats and vulnerabilities through the effective application of available assets, said Maj. Jon Dotterer, Counterdrug Coordinator for the State of Minnesota. The goal for the program is to support federal, state, tribal, and local agencies in the detection, disruption, interdiction, and curtailment of illicit drugs.

Kroll is one of sixteen service members on the Counterdrug Task Force that provides this force-multiplying service to our communities against illicit drug-use. With the information that law enforcement provide through their patrols and daily operations, Kroll and his colleagues across the state assist by putting together a figurative picture with all of the gathered information which aids in identifying how to move forward with legal action to deter or prevent the sale or use of illegal narcotic drugs.

Women Opened Doors in Minnesota National Guard

Posted: 2018-03-08  09:05 AM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - "The battlefront is no place for women to be," said Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Kurtzweg, 125th Field Artillery, in an article published in 1976. "There are certain jobs girls say they can do, but they just can't do ... the battlefront is no place for women to be. Other countries in the world use women in combat, but the U.S. has not come around to that way of thinking." Kathy Berg, a New Ulm reporter summarized at the time. "So women in the New Ulm unit take care of personnel files and pay records and leave the fighting to the men."

The Minnesota National Guard has "come around to that way of thinking" since those early days of gender integration. In the last 44 years women have made momentous strides toward inclusion and acceptance. Their accomplishments are testimony to their fortitude and the progressive development of the Minnesota National Guard.

When an accomplished female Soldier is credited with breaking barriers she will often pass that honor to the women that preceded her. Brig. Gen. Johanna Clyborne is such a leader. She acknowledges that she is one of the first females in the Minnesota National Guard who has held key leadership roles, however she sees it differently. "I feel responsible for all women in uniform," said Clyborne. "Women before me opened the door, now I've cleared the room. It's up to the women behind me to hold the room."

Securing the Bold North: Minnesota National Guard supports Super Bowl LII

Posted: 2018-02-02  10:45 PM
Super Bowl 52 MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - More than 400 Minnesota National Guardsmen are supporting security efforts in Minneapolis ahead of Super Bowl 52.

"This is what we do," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "When the local community can't meet the public safety needs, they come to the Guard. We're their normal partner, we're a natural partner, and we're their preferred partner when it comes to filling in the gaps that they can't fill."

At the request of the city, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton authorized the Minnesota National Guard to provide support to security efforts leading up to and during Super Bowl 52. The Guardsmen are providing direct support to and working alongside law enforcement officers from across the state. Like their civilian law enforcement partners, Minnesota Guardsmen are focused on ensuring a safe experience for the residents and visitors who are attending the Super Bowl festivities.

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