| 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
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
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
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.
Minnesota Guardsman recognized for cultural influence and leadership
Posted: 2016-05-19 09:08 AM
ST. PAUL, Minn. - For his work to promote diversity and build community relationships, Minnesota National Guard Warrant Officer Candidate Alan Lee received the Federal Asian Pacific American Council's Military Meritorious Service Award in Orlando, Fla., May 10, 2016. He was also recognized with a resolution in the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives, May 18.
"To be selected as one out of 12 in the entire nation, I'm really honored," said Lee. "I'm still speechless about it, but I'm truly humbled for it. I don't even believe that I'm deserving of it, I just feel like I'm doing something for the community and for the National Guard."
Lee, whose parents were sponsored to come to America in 1980 as Laotian refugees in Thailand, was born in California and moved to Minnesota in 1990 to be with the rest of his large, extended family. Growing up, Lee heard stories about his grandfather and uncle serving in the Vietnam War which motivated him to want to serve as well. He enlisted at the age of 17 when he was a junior in high school.
Minnesota National Guard aviators respond to wildfires in northern Minnesota
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CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Helicopter crews of the Minnesota National Guard joined firefighters May 6-9, 2016, in northern Minnesota to battle wildfires.
In response to requests made by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources through the Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Governor Mark Dayton authorized the use of four UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters and support personnel to assist in suppression of wildfires across the Iron Range in northern Minnesota.
"Our mission was to provide aviation support to the wildfire suppression missions which assisted the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources," said Maj. Jeremy Degier, aviation duty officer.
Planning and Execution: Keys to a Good Deployment
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DULUTH, Minn. - In early April 2016, the 148th Fighter Wing deployed approximately 300 Airmen and about a dozen F-16's to Osan Air Base, Korea as part of a Theater Security Package (TSP). TSP's have been an integral part of the U.S. Pacific Air Command's force posture since 2004. TSP deployments are routine and not due to any specific threat in the region and usually last three to four months. So, what does it take to make a deployment like this happen?
"From a Logistical Readiness Squadron (LRS) perspective, I would break a deployment into two phases; planning and execution," said Maj. Darin Phillips, 148th Fighter Wing Installation Deployment Officer.
During the planning phase personnel are trained according to the deployment reporting instructions of that theater, to include medical requirements and other personal qualifications. On the cargo side, Unit Deployment Managers (UDMs) and increment monitors work to build their cargo, so load plans can be submitted to get airlift for both equipment and personnel.
133rd Airlift Wing Welcomes New Commander
Posted: 2016-05-13 10:45 AM
ST. PAUL, Minn. - During a change of command ceremony, April 16, 2016, at the 133rd Airlift Wing's South Hangar, Col. Daniel E. Gabrielli took charge of the 133rd Airlift Wing from the outgoing commander, Col. James T. Johnson.
The military tradition of passing the unit guidon from the outgoing commander to the incoming commander was carried out with prestige by the presiding officer, Brig. Gen. David Hamlar, Minnesota National Guard Assistant Adjutant General - Air, with the assistance of Command Chief Master Sgt. Paul Kessler. Members of the wing, past and present, as well as friends and family filled the entire hangar to witness the event and to pass on well-wishes to both men.
"To all of you who make up the collective 133rd Airlift Wing, you are the heart and soul of the machine which accomplishes the mission on a day-to-day basis," said Gabrielli during his address to the Airmen. "My challenge to you all as well as myself, is to keep our focus simple. Be the best you can be and continually ask yourself - are you as ready as you can possibly be to execute your wartime mission?"