/*********************************************** * 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

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.

Guard Heritage Suffers with Loss of Artillery Unit

Posted: 2017-10-04  11:22 AM
ETAB ANOKA, Minn. - The Minnesota National Guard lost one of its most historically significant units when the 151st Artillery's E Battery, (Target Acquisition) cased its colors in a ceremony at the Anoka High School Aug. 19, 2017.

The Target Acquisition Battery (ETAB), 151st Field Artillery is one of the oldest and most decorated units in the Minnesota National Guard and the 34th Infantry Division. "Both Minnesota and the Division lose the proud lineage that goes back to Civil War days, through WW1 and WW2, and had a significant amount of battle streamers," said 151st Field Artillery Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Patrick Cornwell.

The 151st Field Artillery draws its lineage from the 1st Regiment, Minnesota Heavy Artillery of 1864 which fought two major campaigns in Tennessee during the Civil War.

In one month: Minnesota Guardsmen support Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria

Posted: 2017-09-29  02:25 PM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - In the span of a few weeks, three major hurricanes hit different parts of the southern United States, causing widespread damage and destruction and requiring the response of agencies around the country. The Minnesota National Guard is one of the many organizations that have responded, sending Soldiers and Airmen to Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

"This is the most gratifying deployment of my career," said Capt. Jeremy Maxey with the 133rd Airlift Wing who was called back from his vacation early to go to the Virgin Islands. "It means a lot to be able to actually directly help people. It's why I serve. Throughout my career I've deployed numerous times, but this is the one where you actually see the people you serve."

The start of the month brought the first request for assistance. On Sept. 1, two CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 11 personnel from the St. Cloud-based B Company, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment left for Texas following Hurricane Harvey to transport personnel and equipment in support of response efforts.

Article archive