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Minnesota National Guard
Lakeville area Veterans find support, services through Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program

Last September, Lakeville was designated a Yellow Ribbon City For area military families, that means better access to much-needed community resources

Lakeville is home to over 100 active military service members, many of them currently deployed in the Middle East When they return home, reintegrating back into the rhythm of life with family and work can be challenging, even more so when a soldier is wounded or recovering long-term from serious injury

The Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program helps service members and their families by streamlining access to much-needed help Volunteers may help parents at home alone with childcare, errands and even hot meals on stressful days The program also helps returning soldiers with job search tools, health care coordination and access to discounts on goods and services

Sue Palm, communications manager for the city of Lakeville, said a lot of work goes into receiving the Yellow Ribbon designation from the government

"Cities have to present a comprehensive plan about how they're going to facilitate helping our veterans For example, there have to be a components that connect to the business community and the faith community," Palm said "Some cities do all of the planning first, and then submit the proposal, but In Lakeville we went ahead and started laying the groundwork for the programs while we were writing the proposal We really wanted to do something, not just say we were going to do something"
It took the City of Lakeville about a year and a half to complete the designation process from start to finish Palm said all cities do things slightly differently, but Lakeville's priority with Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is to honor, serve and support its military families while service members are gone and when they return Many area soldiers may deploy out of the Hastings Armory, and may come from communities all over the metro area Having a program like Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is vital to smaller communities who may otherwise lack access to support The Lakeville program serves soldiers in a broad radius including Burnsville, Rosemount, Northfield and other cities that don't have a program of their own

Deb Malin lives in Lakeville Her son Kyle lost both legs and suffered other injuries in a land mine explosion on his fourth tour in Afghanistan He is currently recovering on-base at the Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio, TX She said the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program has been a helpful resource for their family, especially for Kyle's wife Alicia and two young sons

"Our entire family is in debt for the kindness and service we've received from Beyond the Yellow Ribbon They arranged daycare two to three days a week for the kids, meals were delivered to us, and our lawn was mowed regularly," Malin said "All of this has helped in such a tremendous way Alicia didn't have to worry about the boys or groceries or meals, and it helped us do what we needed to do: focus on Kyle If they couldn't help us, they would find someone who could They are a great resource and an asset to the community and military families," Malin said

Lakeville is home to VFW Post 210, one of the oldest post's in the country according to Commander Arnold Zach, a Vietnam War veteran and current head of the post He said he's working hard to build a bridge between older veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and younger veterans of the wars in the Middle East He said Beyond the Yellow Ribbon has played an important role in moving that effort forward

"We're the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and that includes now the young soldiers who've served in the Middle East We're here for them and to support them," Zach said "VFW posts were started for soldiers returning from World War II, but the later Korean and Vietnam vets weren't welcomed in the same way when they returned But with Beyond the Yellow Ribbon we're hoping to change that We don't want the same thing to happen with this generation of soldiers"

Zach said there are some challenges to increasing the younger membership He said today's soldiers often think of the VFW as an old men's club where a lot of smoking and drinking goes on, and they may be reluctant to join So he said they offer an incentive to get soldiers in the door

"We offer to pay their first year's dues to join the VFW, but not many people take advantage of that With Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, I really hope to change things, and I hope more service members will see us as a valuable resource for them," Zach said

As for Kyle Malin, he is bravely facing the challenges of recovery When asked by his dad what his biggest challenges are right now, Kyle said he hasn't really thought of anything yet "It's just what it is," he said "It's a day by day thing to get better"

For families wishing to learn more about Lakeville as a Yellow Ribbon City, or to connect to resources available through the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program, visit the city of Lakeville's website at: http://wwwcilakevillemnus/ and click on "Yellow Ribbon" in the right side column, or click here

By Amy Finch | Email the author | February 7, 2011

What do you think of Lakeville's efforts to help veterans? Tell us in the comments

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