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Minnesota National Guard
Dani Johnson helps National Guard families

As a military wife, Dani Johnson knows what it’s like to need community support while her husband is deployed As the Family Readiness Support Assistant, she knows what kinds of resources are available for military families

Dani Johnson serves as the Family Readiness Support assistant for military families

Johnson’s role as the FRSA works as the commander advisor on the 2-136 Infantry Combined Army Battalion (CAB), headquartered in Moorhead

Johnson is based out of Detroit Lakes, which is one of 10 units within the battalion in the northwestern region that includes Moorhead, Bemidji, Fergus Falls, Wadena and Thief River Falls

The largest battalion in Minnesota in terms of the number of Soldiers offers a Family Readiness Program that gives volunteers the opportunity to lead each unit with the support of Johnson, the commander and others

For the units going through deployment, Johnson assists military families in the cycle that starts with training and preparation, on to mobilization and deployment then to post deployment and reconstitution

In Detroit Lakes, there has not been a Family Readiness Group since the last deployment from 2005 to 2007 and it is unknown whether another one is on the radar for the near future

“The activity of the FRG is dependent on where we’re at in the deployment cycle,” Johnson said

Regardless, the civilian side of things is a referral tool that offers resources ranging from snow plowing to day care

“Even though the DL unit itself is not deployed right now, we have military families in the community,” Johnson said, adding, “My office is always open if a military family comes in”

Community organizations who are willing to offer their services work through the Military Family Care Initiative to offer services from yard work to farm chores

“It just takes little things like that that (unfinished work) to really heighten the sense of anxiety,” Johnson said of the services

Johnson is also the point of contact for military families in the community who are seeking others going through same or similar experiences and are looking for someone “just to talk to”

“Unless you’re in it, you really don’t get it,” she added
This holiday season, Johnson connected Anytime Fitness with military families in the community for a toy drive that raised $1,600 for children to receive Christmas presents
“We have a good idea of who the families are,” she said

Before joining the National Guard full time, Johnson was a Family Readiness Group leader herself during the 2003 Bosnia deployment and again in the 2005-2007 Iraq deployment

“Military families are my passion … I blame my husband, of course,” she said with a laugh

That passion and pride in what she does, she said, stems from taking care of each other and providing the services under sometimes-difficult circumstances
“In order for a soldier to do their mission, all they want is to know that their families are taken care of,” Johnson said

Published December 29 2010
By Riham Feshir, DL-Online

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