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

Red Bulls Kickoff Division Warfighter

Posted: 2018-06-13  01:38 PM
DIV WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - "A Warfighter is an exercise that allows the Division to evaluate their ability to maneuver assets in a battle," said Master Sgt. Greg Weaver, the Operations Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge for the Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion. "It is designed to focus on particular areas and specific objectives to be evaluated or tested."

The Division has geared its' planning and training efforts in preparation for Warfighter since July 2017. Coordinating transportation for Soldiers and equipment was often on the mind of Maj. David Johansson, the logistics officer for the 34th ID. With the coordination of Johansson and his team, troops and equipment all converged on Camp Atterbury, enlisting the help of 89 railcars, 280 tractor-trailers, and nearly 50 buses for the movement.

"I like to say my job is to 'quiet the noise'". Johansson continued, "The noise being a real life logistical problem that could impede the exercise."

Minnesota-based aviation unit takes part in Warfighter Exercise

Posted: 2018-06-08  11:59 AM
34ECAB WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - More than 150 Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade are here participating in a multi-echelon training event, Warfighter Exercise 18-5, May 30 to June 15.

The exercise, which is part live and part virtual, is testing the St. Paul, Minnesota-based aviation unit's ability to conduct operations and mission command in a high-intensity, complex operating environment. Soldiers are being challenged to take decisive action as they focus on air-ground operations -- or synchronizing and integrating aviation operations into the scheme of maneuver planned and conducted by forces on the ground.

In this case, the units on the ground are being commanded by the Rosemount, Minnesota-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, which is also participating in the exercise.

148th Fighter Wing hosts STEM program for Duluth-area students

Posted: 2018-06-05  08:52 AM
Starbase Duluth DULUTH, Minn. - Dozens of community and industry leaders passionate about helping children become more engaged in science, technology, engineering and math gathered at the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth, Minn., May 24, 2018, to see what STARBASE Minnesota Duluth is doing for young students in the area.

STARBASE is a Department of Defense youth program that engages students in STEM studies. The program began in 1991, and STARBASE Minnesota was founded in 1993 in St. Paul, which expanded to Duluth in July 2017.

Currently, the school program is open to fifth-grade students, said Charity S. Rupp, the director of STARBASE Minnesota Duluth. The summer camp will serve students in 4-6th grade. Eventually, she hopes the program will expand into STARBASE 2.0 to serve middle school students as an after school program during the academic school year.

Minnesota National Guard leaders visit traveling tribute in Austin

Posted: 2018-05-22  10:16 AM
Traveling Wall AUSTIN, Minn. - A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was on display May 16-20, in Austin and leaders of the 347th Regional Support Group took the opportunity to visit during the event's closing ceremony.

The display, dubbed the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, was hosted by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Austin and featured a near-replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C.

"It was an honor to be part of this humbling and moving tribute to our Vietnam veterans," said Col. Stephen Schemenauer. "The traveling Vietnam Wall is a powerful display, and this event provided an opportunity to meet, and thank, service members from WWII to present-day conflicts. Regardless of their branch of service, or the era or conflict in which they served, we all share a common bond."

Article archive