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Minnesota National Guard
Yellow Ribbon and Beyond

It's hard to believe that I have been writing this column for two years now The first one I wrote was a Memorial Day tribute of sorts to my late father-in-law, Mr Warren I wrote about how, at that time, there was a lot of talk about soldiers sacrificing so much for the rest of us who seemed not to care or even be aware of how great their sacrifices are I don't dispute this, but the soldiers are not the only ones who sacrifice, so do their families That sacrifice is not always having to cope with the loss of a loved one in war It's having to continue to live life while they are away and also when the soldier returns sometimes "not as nature made them, but as war left them" to quote Bob Schieffer

I know someone who is doing something to help His name is Paul and he is the president of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Washington County (Minnesota) Network Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is a federally funded program created by the Minnesota National Guard People living near or on military bases have relatively easy access to certain resources, those resources are harder to find where no base is present Beyond the Yellow Ribbon was created to organize community support so that all military families would have the support they need regardless of residence Originally focusing on returning veterans, it became clear to the organizers that support needed to start before deployment continue through the deployment as well as after It was also clear more than the spouse and children of a soldier's family need help, Extended family such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings are also included as they are also affected when a family member is deployed (I think I have this right, I'm sure Paul will correct me if I don't) While started by the Minnesota National Guard, this program serves members of all branches of the military

Paul has been sharing stories with us at Toastmasters and at the after meeting coffee that some of us attend He talks about several women gathering for coffee to talk about BTYR One of the women who attended has a daughter that had just joined the Marines and who needed someone to talk to who would understand as well as information Also attending were two women who had sons who happened to be Marines and were able to provide her with the information she needed as well as the support of someone who understands

He also told of a woman whose husband was clearly suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Where could she go to get help for him and herself? She went to her boss He went to his wife, who is involved with BTYR, who contacted the National Guard Help arrived soon after Things will get better

Counties, cities and businesses can gain Yellow Ribbon status by finding out what resources they have and organizing them into a network with input from the National Guard, law enforcement, veteran's organizations and other parties One very important thing is that the plan must be sustainable The need is going to be there for a long time and organizations desiring Yellow Ribbon status must understand that they are in for the long haul

I wish that something like this had existed when my father-in-law came back from Europe after World War II He had honor and respect from his family as the war hero he was, but was one of those who came back "not as nature made them, but as war left them" After the parades and such were over he was still a very troubled man whose wife left him with two young boys to care for He worked in the cotton mills and did his best He got some help from his mother who came to live with him for a short time It was a difficult life and a chaotic childhood for the two boys Maybe something like BTYR would have helped We'll never know and there's no time machine to go back and fix things

What can be done is to support all those who are in active duty now and their families We have your back and we thank you

( I want to thank Paul for giving me the information I needed to write this I took the stories off his blog, "Beyond The Yellow Ribbon Stories")

This column is dedicated to the memory of my father-in-law, Mr Warren You are loved You are missed
This is for all the veterans out there who fought and died, who fought and lived and to those who are still fighting

Posted by Sophie Story at 5:44 AM
Monday, May 31, 2010

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