/*********************************************** * 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 ***********************************************/
History
Minnesota National Guard
Returning vets of color face unique challenges


(Photo by Charles Hallman)

Veterans returning home from their tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq all must adjust to life back home However, according to officials, veterans of color often either fail to use no-cost services they are rightfully entitled to or do so too late for various reasons

An honorably discharged veteran from active duty is eligible for VA benefits for five years And, if they went to war, these "combat veterans" can reapply for benefits after their five-year post-discharge period expires 

"Whether it was medical injuries as a direct result of service or something that develops after they leave service, they can file for a medical or emotional condition [and] can be granted medical treatment plus compensation every month," notes Aundrey Sanchez, outreach division supervisor for the Minnesota Division of Veteran Affairs 

According to Sanchez, some veterans of color believe that they can work through problems themselves without help "Veterans of color don't seek [VA] benefits as much as the typical Caucasian veteran does," he notes "There are some veterans who are going to have different issues than others"  

There also are some veterans of color who are embarrassed to ask for help, Sanchez says "A lot of times it also depends on the level of hardship they run into"

Since 2001, over 18,000 state National Guard members have been deployed overseas As a result, they are eligible for the same benefits as other military personnel after they are discharged from active duty

"We are not National Guard when we get deployed," Lt. Col. Trancey Williams duly points out Williams, the local Guard's highest ranking Black officer, is Human Relations and Equal Opportunity division chief

"Technically, we are still associated [with the Guard after deployment, but] there is no uniform that says 'National Guard' Our uniforms say 'United States Army' [or] 'Air Force,' 'Marines' or 'Navy,'" he continues

The Minnesota National Guard also started Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, a comprehensive program that addresses the needs of service members and their families before, during and after deployments A total of four percent of Minnesota National Guard members deployed to Iraq were Asian, Native American, Latino and Black 

"All [members of color] came back except one," Williams reports  

Sanchez was a US Army staff sergeant who served a year in Iraq during his nine years of active duty Whether in the National Guard or another military branch, the Soldier will change once they see combat, he points out 

"You are going to see things that really open your eyes," says Sanchez "You are going to see some good, but you are going to see a lot of the ugly You will have a different outlook on life
"Nobody can go into this situation and not be changed," he emphasizes

"When you go to war," explains Williams, who himself returned last February after a year in Iraq, "there is a strong possibility that you may not come back" A Soldier should prepare their family for this, "and then your family starts to make those changes, those adjustments of you being gone Then all of a sudden you're back 

"One of my biggest issues that I am still working on is readjusting to family life balance, [such as] getting my own personal space back in my own home," notes Williams "Through counseling [prior to their return], we are told these are the changes that you attempt at 30 days, [then] 60 days, or that you even attempt at 90 days I'm making those changes slowly
"Everything is not going to fall back into place just because you are back," surmises Williams, "just like everything didn't fall apart because you left It was a gradual thing"

The second adjustment is how he talks with non-military types, says Williams "Since I've been back, I've had a host of friends tell me that my communication [and] my vocabulary [have] changed I'm more direct, because in war you've got to make a decision, act on it, and move out now We'll analyze it later

"I still do risk analysis, always doing 'What if?" says Williams, citing as an example his recent attendance at a concert "Who was going to be out there? What is the possibility of something going wrong? What is my contingency plan? My escape routes?  I don't stop thinking those things

"Am I still readjusting? I'm sure I am, but will I ever stop doing those things? I don't think I will"
Williams also believes that what impacts a White veteran home from overseas duty has an even greater impact on veterans of color, calling it "emotional trauma" 

"There are so many psycho-social issues" that Soldiers of color often face, either during their tour of duty or after their discharge, claims Eric Proeser, a psychologist at Chicago's Jesse Brown Veterans Administration Clinic He ranks his cases by ethnicity:  Latinos first, followed by Blacks, then White veterans Around 17 percent of his patients are women veterans who receive the same benefits as their male counterparts

His office sees all veterans, "but it seems a larger percent [are divided] between Hispanics and African Americans," Proeser reports, adding that the volunteer Soldier's economic profile today is "middle class [or] low-income"

"My role as a leader is to make sure that our voices, concerns and issues were going to be raised at the highest level, regardless of how small [or large] the issue is," says Williams on his position with the state's National Guard to help ensure that all Soldiers' concerns are met, especially those of Blacks and other people of color    

When he joined the military over 20 years ago, Williams knew that the possibility of seeing combat one day existed "I understood the choices that I had," he recalls "I wanted to come because I'd get some extra money in my pocket I wanted the benefits of being in the military I wanted the billion-dollar training that would be an advantage to take into the corporate world
"The cost was that at some given time, the government might need those skills for protection of the nation I hoped that it would never happen, but it happened"

Serving combat time was "a return for that investment, for 26 years of preparing me It was not my [civilian] occupation that led me to go [to Iraq], but my obligation because of the young brothers and sisters being deployed

"I didn't want them there without a leader I'm the only African American on the leadership team"

Both Sanchez and Williams encourage fellow service members, especially those of color, to seek assistance when needed "It is as simple as a phone call," says Sanchez, adding that this applies also for family members, including widows and dependent children

"We can look at them as problems or look at them as challenges," says Williams "I prefer to look at them as challenges"

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recordercom
By Charles Hallman, Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
July 05, 2010
Copyright: ©2010 Minesota Spokesman-Recorder


Article source
http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2010/07/05/returning-vets-color-face-unique-challenges

Related articles
Returning vets of color face unique ‘challenges’






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
 
top