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Minnesota National Guard
City, county will go 'Beyond the Yellow Ribbon'

Submitted by Brent Schacherer on April 8, 2011 - 4:59pm

Helping soldiers readjust to life after service on foreign soil is the aim of the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon initiative created by the Minnesota National Guard

This week, Litchfield and Meeker County governmental units signed on to be part of the effort

"We're looking at trying to take resources across the community and county level to create awareness to serve service members and their families," 2nd Lt Seth Goreham, Yellow Ribbon outreach coordinator, told the Litchfield City Council Monday night "There's a lot of issues that go on 90 to 120 days after they come back"

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon does not seek financial support from communities, Goreham said Instead, it seeks services - everything from mental health counseling to volunteers who can mow the lawn or shovel the sidewalk for the family of a service member who has been deployed

Goreham, along with Jeffrey Gay of the Minnesota Military Family Assistance Center, and Carmen Brunsvold of the Military Public Services Corp, visited the Litchfield City Council Monday, and Goreham continued his awareness campaign Tuesday by addressing the Meeker County Board of Commissioners

He asked both bodies for a vote of support for Beyond the Yellow Ribbon and for both to appoint a member to a steering committee that would help establish a local Yellow Ribbon organization Goreham explained that the steering committee should include one or two representatives from about 16 areas, including education, health care and law enforcement Once the steering committee is established, its members would become the "go-to" people when a soldier or soldier's family needs assistance

"The Guard comes in to help set it up, and you run with it They (the steering committee members) run the show," Goreham said "They decide what we're going to want to do"

Currently, there are 27 individual cities that have been proclaimed Beyond the Yellow Ribbon communities, some of them joining the program in cooperation with other communities The first Yellow Ribbon city, Goreham said, was Farmington, which was proclaimed in 2005

The goal is to extend the Yellow Ribbon effort to every community in the state that has an active armory

Though initially unsure of exactly what was required of the city, the City Council offered unanimous support for the Yellow Ribbon request

That was followed up by approval from the Meeker County Board Tuesday

"It's important to take care of these people," Mayor Keith Johnson said Monday "You know, these people come home and nobody thinks about them We need to continue to support them"

Ward 1 council member Barb Altringer volunteered to be the city's representative on the Yellow Ribbon steering committee

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