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Minnesota National Guard
Farmington will be state model, host to Yellow Ribbon summit

Summit will prepare communities for 2011 deployment of Minnesota Soldiers

A daylong Yellow Ribbon Summit will take place Sept 22 in the Little Theatre at Boeckman Middle School in Farmington

Farmington was chosen as the host site because the city was the first in the state to earn the Yellow Ribbon community distinction, said Annette Kuyper, director of Farmington Warrior to Citizen and organizer of the Yellow Ribbon proclamation summit
Gov Tim Pawlenty is scheduled to address the group that afternoon The goal of the Yellow Ribbon Network is to offer support to military service members and their families

“We want to reach deeper into neighborhoods and communities to ensure military service members and their families are not alone before, during and after a deployment, or anytime throughout their service to our country,” Kuyper said

Part of the reason for the summit is the state’s preparation for a large deployment of Minnesota Soldiers in the spring of 2011, Kuyper said

City leaders and legislative representatives will be invited to take part in the dialogue Armory representatives from different cities across the state will also be present, Kuyper said

“City leaders are coming to Farmington to learn about being a Yellow Ribbon Network community, and we are hoping for 70 to 100 cities from across the state to be represented,” Kuyper said
Many cities and organizations invited to participate in the summit have already earned a Yellow Ribbon Company status, Kuyper said These groups of volunteers have adopted action plans for supporting military service members and their families

“We want to talk about what the Yellow Ribbon program has done in a community, and how it can support the military service members and their families,” Kuyper said

Kuyper said the Pentagon is interested in what’s going on within Yellow Ribbon networks in Minnesota

“And now, Minnesota is receiving national attention, and Farmington is receiving national attention, and other states are calling on us,” she said

Kuyper, the director of military outreach for Minnesota, works in her day job to expand the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon network campaign

“What is cool is that we have been working with Hastings, South St Paul and Lakeville, and Farmington, and they have all been sharing what we have learned about how to best help military families,” Kuyper said

When Farmington High School graduate Kyle Malin was severely injured and lost both legs in Afghanistan, local Yellow Ribbon networks and volunteers in Farmington and Lakeville were deployed to give assistance to his parents, who live in Lakeville, Kuyper said

“When we found out about Kyle Malin, we were able to offer the family assistance in a very short time,” she said

Plans are under way to see if guests can be brought to the summit via helicopter

“If we can, we plan to land a helicopter before the ceremony in the field next to Boeckman, so the middle school kids can see the helicopter land, and learn about what communities are doing to support our troops and families,” Kuyper said

Originally, the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program was a project of the Minnesota Army National Guard, Kuyper said But now it has expanded to include all military branches

“Because of the success of our Farmington Yellow Ribbon program, and other Yellow Ribbon communities across the state, we need to be ready to give support to military families and make sure the program is growing,” Kuyper said

Kara Hildreth is at farmingtonthisweek@ecm-inccom
by Kara Hildreth
Thisweek Newspapers
Posted under Farmington, Lakeville, News on Thursday 9 September 2010 at 6:00 am

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