| Military family prepares for husband's deployment
by Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
April 15, 2011
Anoka County, Minn -- How do you prepare for a year at war?
The Munoz family is struggling with that question Staff officer Freddy Munoz will soon deploy to Kuwait as part of the drawdown of US troops from Iraq, along with about 2,400 other Minnesota National Guard soldiers
The deployment comes at a tricky time: Freddy and his wife Jennifer, who live in a northern suburb of the Twin Cities, are in the process of trying to adopt two children The situation is adding more uncertainty to an already stressful deployment
With Freddy's deployment just weeks away, Jenny Munoz, 29, is already resigned to what is coming Soon, life will take on a familiar rhythm -- long days of work and responsibilities at home; late night phone calls and emails; and constant worry
She approaches this deployment with the stoicism of an experienced military wife
"I don't think it's really set in with me yet," said Jenny Munoz "It's nice to have him home but it's making it more difficult to adjust to it, if that makes sense"
Unlike many of the National Guard soldiers deploying in May, Freddy Munoz, 31, is already partially deployed
That's because it's his job to ship everything for his battalion, the Brainerd-based 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor
So Munoz, who is also a police officer, is already living apart from his wife during the week and coming home on weekends
After training in the US in May, he'll join the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, in Kuwait The Red Bulls will be stationed in Kuwait, providing security and running convoys into and out of Iraq
This will be Munoz's second time in Iraq He served there during the surge on an extended deployment
"From Dec 1, 2005 through July 17, 2007," he said, "and I saw my wife a total of one month"
Being apart for that long wasn't easy for the couple, and Jenny says things got even worse when Freddy finally got home
"It was a long time for us to figure out how to live together again, and get used to each other and compromise," she said
Adjustment problems are common among service members returning from combat deployment For most soldiers, the problems are short term But they're still tough on relationships
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about parenting issues when he comes back"
- Jenny Munoz
The Minnesota National Guard does not keep statistics on divorce rates, but according to the Pentagon, the divorce rate among military members overall has risen since 2001
The divorce rate in the armed forces was about 36 percent in 2009, up from 26 percent in 2001 In the 2009 fiscal year, there were an estimated 27,312 divorces among the nearly 765,000 married members of the active-duty Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, according to figures provided by the Pentagon
The military has ramped up programs designed to address the disruptions and stress that multiple deployments can cause for families and children
The Munozes are taking advantage of similar programs before Freddy's deployment On a recent Friday evening, they packed up their suitcases for a weekend marriage retreat for military families in outstate Minnesota
"I don't mind packing for a weekend," said Jenny "I get tired of packing to move"
Since marrying in 2003, the Munozes have moved at least eight times, not including deployments
With their suitcases packed and ready to be loaded in the car, Freddy says the marriage retreat was his idea He wants to prevent the kinds of issues they had when he got home from his last deployment -- when he had trouble compromising with his wife
"My perspective was more or less, this is how it's going to get done, that's it We are going to do this at this time and that's it," said Freddy Munoz "It was really hurting our relationship"
The one thing they can't control is the timing of their pending adoption They were hoping it would be finalized before Freddy's unit deployed, but now it looks as though it won't go through until Freddy is already in the Middle East
If that happens, Jenny will have to shepherd their new children into the family all alone
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about parenting issues when he comes back," Jenny said "It's going to be a long time by ourselves, and so I'm worried"
As daunting as that prospect is, Jenny is matter-of-fact It's just one more challenge she'll be forced to face while her husband is away at war
Camp Ripley strikes first before wildfire season
Posted: 2017-03-24 10:19 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Every spring Camp Ripley begins its annual controlled burn program to help reduce the risk of wildfire during training.
"Usually the burns are completed every spring before the summer annual training season begins," said Tim Notch, training area coordinator on Camp Ripley. "However, the warmer weather conditions provide a nice opportunity for preventative burns earlier this season."
As in years past Camp Ripley will conduct controlled burns on approximately 13,000 acres of the 53,000-acre military reservation. The burns are done in coordination with the staffs of the Camp Ripley Department of Public Works and the Camp Ripley Environmental Department along with support from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Minnesota Guardsman earns recognition through Leads 2 Enlistment program
Posted: 2017-03-23 09:46 AM
DULUTH, Minn. - Pfc. Trevor Nelson received the Minnesota Distinguished Recruiting Ribbon and a Minnesota Recruiting and Retention Battalion medallion for excellence from Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Serbus, March 18, 2017, at the Duluth Armory. Nelson earned these awards as part of the online referral system, Leads 2 Enlistment for referring four friends who have joined the Minnesota National Guard.
"I talked to some buddies in my school about the Guard. They liked the benefits, so I put their info in the app and let my recruiter take over." said Nelson. "I thought it would be fun to serve with friends and help them figure out their path in life."
Nelson is currently a senior at Cloquet Senior High School and assigned to the Recruit Sustainment Program in Duluth. He attended basic training at Fort Benning in the summer of 2016 with follow-on training in the summer of 2017 to become an infantryman.
Litchfield and Local Veteran Honor Gen. John Vessey at Armory Open House
Posted: 2017-03-10 08:50 AM
LITCHFIELD, Minn. -Bruce Cottington, a Navy veteran of WWII and Korea, donated a bronze bust of Gen. John W. Vessey, Jr. to the Litchfield National Guard unit during the armory's public open house event March 4. Cottington, a Litchfield resident, commands the Minnesota Chapter of the Veterans of Underage Military Service. VUMS members enlisted in the military prior to the minimum age requirement in order to serve their country during WWII. Cottington received the bust from Vessey, a fellow VUMS member. Both enlisted in the military at the age of 16.
The highlight of the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion open house was the unveiling of the sculpture. The unit was very supportive when Cottington proposed donating the sculpture. The Litchfield community has always been very supportive of the National Guard over the years, so the open house was a chance to say 'thanks' to their neighbors. "This was a great opportunity to honor Bruce and to honor Gen. Vessey," said B Co., 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion Commander, Capt. Seth Goreham. Bravo Company also has a tight relationship with the local American Legion and VFW. Many Litchfield citizens are former members of Bravo Company, or the unit's predecessors A Co, 682nd Engineer Battalion, and the 849th Mobility Augmentation Company.
Camp Ripley welcomes new command sergeant major
Posted: 2017-03-08 03:29 PM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The garrison command team of Camp Ripley, family, friends and colleagues from the Minnesota National Guard attended a Change of Responsibility ceremony between Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Worden and Command Sgt. Maj. Matt Erickson, March 5, 2017, at Camp Ripley.
The ceremony was an official "passing of the sword" from one senior noncommissioned officer to the next and assumption of the duties and responsibilities that go along with the position of Garrison Command Sergeant Major.
As with many military ceremonies those in attendance welcomed Erickson as a new member of the team and bid farewell, recognized and thanked Worden for his service.