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Minnesota National Guard
Beyond The Yellow Ribbon

ALBERT LEA, MN--Since 9/11 the Minnesota National Guard has deployed more than 20,000 Soldiers Saying goodbye is very hard for all of those Soldiers, but often times it's even harder for the families who are left behind

Minnesota was the first state to start a re-integration program after service And now, a new campaign is aimed at getting the community even more involved with those families, before, during, and after deployment

It's innocent faces like that of little Alex Funk, who are left at home during deployments She's the daughter of Colonel and Albert Lea Schools Superintendent Mike Funk who most recently served in Kosovo

One of the lead organizers for the new "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" campaign, Lt. Col.onel Barbara O'Reilly says, "It's just really a grassroots effort, not a lot of money, but a lot of people who care"

She's describing the program that may have helped little Alex and her family out during her dad's deployment "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" is a community based organization, that doesn't take donations, but rather people's time and services to help troops and their families out, before during and after deployment

O'Reilly says, "Our goal is to develop 'Fort Minnesota' We define that as, united communities supporting those who serve all throughout Minnesota, it's an enduring network of support that links one community, the next community, and the next community"

Albert Lea's National Guard has been deployed twice in the last 6 years And it's a program SFC Jeff Dahlen says would have greatly helped his family, "When I get deployed, they tell me what to do, where to go, what to eat, what to wear But when I leave my family at home, there's empty space that I would, little tasks that I would normally do that become very frustrating on top of taking care of 2 children and running a career"

The campaign hopes people will offer the skills and services they already have, like mowing grass, making meals, plowing snow, or helping build resumes, that would aleviate some of that stress from families Dahlen says, "I think my wife's job is sometimes harder than what we do Even though our job can be very stressful at times, she's got a lot of stress all the time"

If Albert Lea moves forward with the campaign, they must create an action plan for what they'll do to help build "Fort Minnesota" And then the Governor will designate them a "Yellow Ribbon Community", with a designation on the city's sign

For more information: http://BeyondTheYellowRibbonorg

Reported by: Gwen Siewert
Last Update: 3/31 8:29 pm


Article source: http://www.kimt.com/

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