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Minnesota National Guard
National Guard to community: You can play a role to help soldiers

Posted: February 28, 2011 - 9:20pm
By Jennifer Stockinger
Staff Writer

The Minnesota National Guard announced earlier this year its second largest deployment of Minnesota Soldiers since World War II that will affect hundreds of Soldiers and their families in the Brainerd lakes area

On Monday, Brainerd area officials attended a National Guard campaign meeting at Central Lakes College to start the process of the city becoming a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon community

Capt Joseph Sanganoo of the Minnesota National Guard office in Brainerd, who is one of nearly 600 Soldiers headquartered in Brainerd who will be part of the one-year deployment to Kuwait in May, said the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon campaign began for connecting Soldiers and their families with the community for support, training, services and resources

Sanganoo, who spoke about the program to a group of around 30 that included elected city and county officials, school and college administrators and law enforcement and public safety officials, said they're the ones who are needed to help kick-start the campaign in Brainerd The campaign begins by officials developing a social network that meets to come up with a sustainable action plan to help support military families, all the while building awareness throughout the community

Annette Kuyper, director of military outreach for the Minnesota National Guard, said Brainerd is a patriotic community and she wants to see it become a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon community Kuyper said Minnesota does a good job on reintegrating Soldiers back into their families, but those efforts have to be coordinated with the community to help them

"Families learn how to keep relationships, prepare for deployment, coming home and we bring in the top people to help them with issues, but the real problem is the fight over the chec book or the connection with children," said Kuyper "The families leave with a big bag of information, but that is not enough We need the community to surround them (Soldiers and their families) with support"
Kuyper said the steering committee needs to be represented by law enforcement/public safety, education, business/employers, youth providers, elected officials, faith-based organizations, volunteer group and veteran services organization This committee then will discuss needs revolved around financial planning, health care accessibility, quality employment opportunities, how to help support families with chores, such as snow plowing, mowing the lawn or taking care of the children and education, such as helping a child with a deployed parent deal with issues at school

Brainerd Mayor James Wallin and Baxter Mayor Darrel Olson, who both sit on the Camp Ripley Citizens Committee and who both are military veterans themselves, attended the meeting to support their cities in becoming a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon community

Wallin's been involved with the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon at Camp Ripley and Brainerd and he believes it's a wonderful program Wallin, a 35-year veteran, said the program is needed in Brainerd as there are Soldiers, who are being deployed Wallin said deployments add stress on the Soldiers and their families and the community should help them

Olson said as a 26-year veteran he knows that if something is going to go wrong in life, it will be when a spouse is deployed Olson said he was gone for only 17 days to Panama and his spouse encountered vehicle troubles

"These Soldiers will be gone for a year or more," said Olson "And we need to support them

Brainerd School Superintendent Steve Razidlo said he came to the meeting to learn what the schools can do to raising awareness for the Soldiers and their families

Razidlo said the schools have worked hard to honor veterans and they want to support them the best they can

First Lt Adam Kedrowski, the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon outreach coordinator in Brainerd, said officials interested in being on the committee may contact him at the Brainerd Armory at (612) 618-9045 or e-mail him at adamjameskedrowski@us.army.mil

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