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Minnesota National Guard
Yellow Ribbon program smooths the road home

Soldiers say reintegration program has made it easier to readjust to life as a civilian

By: Emily Zimmer, Rosemount Town Pages

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Justin and Scholastica Baker have had a busy year since returning from their deployments with the 34th Infantry Division in Iraq

Back in 2003, when Capt Justin Baker came back from serving a tour of duty in Bosnia, there was no reintegration program It was welcome home and good luck

During that time Justin said he struggled with boredom and missed the people he deployed with

“It was a transition,” said Baker

Last year when Baker returned from a 22-month deployment in Iraq, it was a much different experience Through the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program, Baker and the rest of the 34th Infantry Division, went through reintegration programs at 30, 60 and 90 days and then again at a year

The Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program aims to provide soldiers the resources they need to overcome any struggles they encounter while returning to life back home

Over the weekend, soldiers who deployed with the Red Bulls went through their one-year reintegration program While there, soldiers attended two seminars on issues including finances, relationships, education, employment and medical They also had the opportunity to talk with providers for services available to veterans and their families

Baker said he found the financial and relationship seminars were especially helpful

“I definitely think it’s a benefit,” he said

Baker and his wife, Scholastica, both returned from deployments in Iraq in early 2010 Since returning, the couple has had a baby, Justin returned to law school and Scholastica was accepted into law school Both are at William Mitchell College of Law

The desire to attend law school was one of the first things the couple found they had in common They met while they were both serving in Bosnia

Needless to say it’s been a crazy but good year for the couple

More than 1,200 soldiers deployed with the Red Bulls to Iraq in February 2009 The soldiers, who provided command and control of military forces in the southern third of Iraq, returned in three waves in January 2010

Headquartered at Contingency Operating Base Basra, the 34th Infantry Division led a force of approximately 14,000 US service members throughout nine of Iraq’s 18 provinces

Both Bakers hope to put 20 years into the National Guard, so that means there is a chance one or both could be deployed again Scholastica said they’ll do what they have to do

In Rosemount a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon group has started to take shape The group aims to further the mission of helping soldiers come all the way home

To learn more about the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Program and how to get involved visit wwwbtyrorg

Published July 28, 2011, 11:04 AM

Article source
http://www.rosemounttownpages.com/event/article/id/28309/



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