/*********************************************** * Chrome CSS Drop Down Menu- (c) Dynamic Drive DHTML code library (www.dynamicdrive.com) * This notice MUST stay intact for legal use * Visit Dynamic Drive at http://www.dynamicdrive.com/ for full source code ***********************************************/
History
Minnesota National Guard
Group working to make Washington County first Yellow Ribbon county

March 11, 2009

Everyone wants to know how the Soldier is doing

No one asks how the Soldier's family is doing

That is the message that military personnel took to a group gathered at Oak-Land Junior High School in Lake Elmo Monday night The listeners were there to form coalitions and support systems to keep families of Soldiers deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan from feeling alone, isolated and bereft in a sea of child care, household chores and daily demands

The meeting was called by a number of Washington County leaders after meeting Lt Col Barbra O'Reilly and Col Kevin Gerdes at a Washington County Board of Commissioners meeting at which the board commended the send-off of the 34th Infantry Division, Army National Guard Division Headquarters in Rosemount, known as the Red Bulls

When people at the county meeting asked, what can we do, they were directed to the city of Farmington, which has become a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon community Residents there formed themselves into a number of groups to provide services and support to deployed families

Farmington followed a template to become a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon community, following research by the Warrior to Citizen campaign developed at the University of Minnesota Should Washington County become a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon county, filling the template offered by the organization, it would be one of the first counties to do so

What it is like

At the opening of the gathering Monday evening, military families explained why the need exists

O'Reilly described her own deployment to Afghanistan, during which she left two young daughters at home with her husband

She described the experience as being in a canoe, one that keeps its balance as the family paddles across a serene lake But when the word comes that the Soldier will be deploying, "It upset my canoe,"� she said

"You're waiting for the inevitable day when you have to go,"� she said, and the water gets rougher as the day comes closer "As I left, I slipped into a world of the execution mode, but my husband and daughters were still in the canoe,"� O'Reilly said

What's more, he was not unlike most military families, who are reluctant to ask for help

"He's at the end of the lake, and there's a portage,"� she said It's time to ask for help from friends, neighbors and the rest of the community, but that is a tough task for most military families

Left behind

Micki Gerdes, wife of Col Kevin Gerdes, told her story from the perspective of the family left behind

Everyone wants to know how the deployed spouse is doing, what they can do for the Soldiers fighting "over there"�

No one asks what they can do for the family

"I raised my right hand and took an oath to go wherever this country would send me,"� Kevin Gerdes said "Micki and my boys did not They were drafted"�

Micki Gerdes talked of being isolated and lonely, of needing household help that was not coming Co-workers were either indifferent or against the war, and said so Her sons didn't want anyone to know that their father was deployed and they were "different"� Teachers were both sympathetic and indifferent, she said

No one is looking for sympathy, Kevin Gerdes said, and no one needs to say "I'm sorry"� about a deployment But support and understanding would be helpful

"�Fort Minnesota'

With regular army, those deployed will train and prepare at a fort, and their families will be living among one another and support one another But what is needed is "Fort Minnesota,"� as there is no single military installation in the state, O'Reilly said

And that is the point of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, to gather the support for military families into a concerted effort

After the formal presentation, those attending broke into groups to talk about what segments of the community can do to help Elected officials from the community listened to Annette Kuyper of Farmington, who discussed the process that her community underwent to become a designated Beyond the Yellow Ribbon community

Other groups were educators, social service network providers, veterans groups, clergy and others In the group connected to the clergy, the question came up, "how to find the families?"�

Because of privacy issues, there are not lists of the deployed that are released Community members simply have to ask, pay attention, and refer friends and neighbors Kuyper added that once residents in her community became aware of the programs, efforts "bubbled up"� to locate those who need help

Going forward

The purpose of the meeting was to generate interest in the community and that was accomplished, said Sen Kathy Saltzman, one of the organizers,

The next step is to make sure that everyone left the meeting with a task and contact information on how to get that task completed The groups should meet every week for the next five weeks, to help find the people within the community who can be of help

Saltzman emphasized that the movement is not to create new organizations or programs, but simply to mobilize current programs, as well as offering support for the families of the deployed

The group created an e-mail address yellowribbonnetwork@comcastnet to provide a common point of discussion for the group

Yvonne Klinnert "� Lake Elmo Leader

Read more at the Lake Elmo Leader
Go to the Minnesota National Guard's Beyond the Yellow Ribbon page for more information about the Minnesota National Guard's award-winning Servicemember reintegration program.



Articles archive

In The News archive

Media Advisory archive

Latest News

Operation Future Warrior, rain or shine

Posted: 2017-05-24  01:12 PM
Operation Future Warrior More than 900 recruits from the Minnesota National Guard came to Camp Ripley Friday through Sunday for Operation Future Warrior.

Young men and women who volunteered to join the Minnesota Army National Guard got to experience a small taste of basic training and military training during the three-day event.

"The intent of Operation Future Warrior is removing the mystery of the training recruits will experience when attending Basic Combat and Advance Individualized Training," said Lt. Col. Eduardo Suarez, recruiting and retention battalion commander.



St. Paul-based Combat Aviation Brigade welcomes new senior enlisted leader

Posted: 2017-05-23  08:03 AM
Hellkamp ARDEN HILLS, Minn. - The Minnesota National Guard's 34th Combat Aviation Brigade welcomed a new senior enlisted leader during a change of responsibility ceremony, May 21, 2017, at the Arden Hills Army Training Site.

Command Sgt. Maj. Mitchell Hellkamp assumed duties as the unit's senior noncommissioned officer (NCO) from Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Cunnien, who served in the position for the past two years and will be retiring from the military later this year.

"Command Sgt. Maj. Cunnien is one of the finest leaders that I have worked with in my career," said Col. Shawn Manke, commander of the 34th CAB. "He sets the example for all noncommissioned officers and Soldiers to emulate. He is a true professional, as a visible leader and teacher for the Soldiers of the combat aviation brigade. We're grateful for his many years of service, and we wish him well as he closes out his military career and enters the next chapter in his life."



Families recognized for sacrifices during Guard deployment

Posted: 2017-05-22  10:57 AM
Welcome Home ST. CLOUD, Minn. - Soldiers of B Co., 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion were welcomed home May 20, 2017, at the River's Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota. During the ceremony, families were recognized for their sacrifices during the year-long deployment.

"I often tell Soldiers and truly believe that as hard as our jobs are at times, our families have the harder job at home," said Lt. Col. Kevin O'Brien, commander of the 2-147 Assault Helicopter Battalion. "Because Army family members have a unique burden that many of their friends and families cannot understand, they form family readiness groups, or FRGs, to share information and provide support to one another."

The company's FRG leader, Rhiannon Knutson, wife of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Tom Knutson, was in constant contact with the unit's families and went above and beyond what is normally expected of FRG leaders, said the unit's readiness non-commissioned officer, Sgt. 1st Class Mark Wood.



Camp Ripley's Training Support Unit keeps the base running

Posted: 2017-05-16  12:41 PM
Camp Ripley CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The Camp Ripley Training Support Unit is designated to the care, upkeep and assistance to the installation and those utilizing the facility.

"The Training Support Unit's (TSU) primary focus is to support unit training requirements and ensure smooth operations here on Camp Ripley and the Arden Hills Army Training Site in the metro," said Sgt. 1st Class Terry Clabo, Training Support Unit Readiness NCO.

Camp Ripley features numerous ranges and state-of-the-art training facilities to support military, law enforcement, first responder and inter-agency partner training requirements. The installation is structured to have a full complement of automated small arms and large caliber weapon ranges as well as several specialized training facilities.



Article archive
 
top