/*********************************************** * 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 ***********************************************/
Minnesota National Guard
Remembering vets after they return home

The Bemidji community's support of its National Guard members serving an extended 16-month tour in Iraq was great, says Jeff Roberts, father of two sons who served

The Bemidji community's support of its National Guard members serving an extended 16-month tour in Iraq was great, says Jeff Roberts, father of two sons who served

But that support soon left after the Soldiers returned to their lives and families - a time when it's needed most, he said

Roberts presented a family perspective Tuesday night at a Beltrami County Republican-sponsored observance of Veterans Day, which is today

"It truly amazing how many people were involved in Soldier and family activities in this community," Roberts said Tuesday night "Our Soldiers felt a unity of strength and purpose holding them up"

There seemed to be more support because they were National Guard - "home-town, home-grown" citizen Soldiers who held jobs in the community - rather than regular Army stationed elsewhere, he said

"In our community, the people went out of their way to support these deployments, money was raised, packages were sent and support was evident everywhere," Roberts said "But once the troops returned, this feel-good effort was pretty much over"

At that point, "Soldiers were pretty much left to sink or swim on their own, not ever really adjusting to society," he said "Some expected them to return the same as they left Well, they didn't It doesn't work that way Some had problems - they want to drink too much, some lost their marriages, some lost jobs and careers, some lost more

"They were the last to realize they were the ones with problems," Roberts said

It includes a suicide, he said, pausing to read an account written by his son, Gregory Roberts, and published in Sunday's Star Tribune Opinion Exchange section

"I expected things to magically be better when I came home," the son wrote "I figured a month or two to get back in the groove of civilian life at most I was wrong

"It took me six months before I realized I suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder It took another year before I saw that if I didn't get help I would follow the rabbit down the hole and there would be no wonderland at the bottom"

He told coping with a suicide among the returning Soldiers The man "taught me that the casualties do not stop when you've left the war zone," Greg Roberts wrote "That friends are a veteran's only lifeline That it is OK to admit you can't handle the hurt alone"

That's why it's so important to recognize veterans for the sacrifices they made serving this country - on Veterans Day and every day - said Jeff Roberts

"As a nation, we owe it to our Soldiers to take care of them," he said "We are involved in a long-term conflict "¦(the effects) can and will last a lifetime"

The community needs to look out for its veterans, to know problems and symptoms

"We've got to be watchful as people," he said "Watchful as friends and neighbors We've got to be pro-active if we see something We've got to be involved if we can be We've got to help a vet, and show support and appreciation"

Simple may be best, he said

"Simple eye contact and a softly said thank you will leave a positive and lasting impression," Roberts said "They can be anywhere - they can be old, they can be young, they can be male, they can be female, they can mothers and daughters, and sons and fathers"

Kath Molitor, who organized the program, said she wanted parents of Soldiers to speak, and Roberts agreed She tried to have Soldiers who had been deployed to Iraq to speak, but found none willing

"I tried to find a Soldier who returned from Iraq to speak," she said "But every solider who returned from Iraq would not speak They couldn't do it - not yet"

Kerry Moen, a four-year US Navy veteran, said she was the first female in her family to enter military service She found most fulfilling serving on the color guard at the Pearl Harbor Base in Hawaii

Moen said she feels queasy when people thank her for her service "I get the feeling when I talk to other vets that they often feel the same way, that they were just doing their jobs"

But the pride and emotion comes when talking to a family member of a vet, she said, and of the magnitude of the ordinary

Moen at Pearl Harbor funeral ceremonies was the one in the color guard to present the US flag to the deceased's family "After being on the receiving end of that situation, when my grandfather's flag was presented to me, I really saw how that event was truly extraordinary"

Moen said that "many veterans continue daily to make sacrifices as they quietly go about their daily duties with no expectations for any extraordinary praise Many still fight battles daily; for some, it's every time they look into a mirror Others feel it in pain from some injury Still more feel it in the form of a mental illness like post-traumatic stress disorder

"For these veterans their sacrifices continue," she said

About 100 people came to Northern Town Hall to honor veterans, as well as partake in soup, bread and desserts to which they could vote for their favorites Videos were shown and patriotic music played

Brad Swenson, Bemidji Pioneer
11 Nov 2009
Article source: Bemidji Pioneer

Articles archive

In The News archive

Media Advisory archive

Latest News

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.

100 Years Ago, Camp Cody's "Grand Old Man" formed 34th Infantry Division

Posted: 2018-01-18  12:59 PM
Gen. Augustus Blocksom Decorated veteran Augustus Blocksom was a man of his time, but times were changing. He exemplified Progressive Era America prior to the Great War. Blocksom participated in all the major US Army campaigns for nearly a half-century. He fought American Indians, Spaniards, Chinese and Filipinos. He brought that experience to Camp Cody, New Mexico where he assembled units from across the mid-West to form the 34th Infantry Division in 1917.

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.

Article archive