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Minnesota National Guard
Women Veterans Group Changes a Paradigm

The definition of a veteran is a person who has served in the armed forces, yet it has taken decades for women to be acknowledged in this category

Since more than twenty-six percent of veterans are women, the Women Veterans Initiative Working Group is on a mission to educate them of programs and services that are available to improve their lives and well-being

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"Historically, women veterans haven't always acknowledged themselves as veterans It started way back in World War II and earlier, when women were brought into service during time of war, but as soon as the war was over they were discharged," said Trista Matascastillo, Chair of the Women Veterans Initiative Working Group "It was like, we don't need you anymore, go home, go back to being a wife and a mother"

Although women have played a role in the military for centuries, it wasn't until the early 1970's that women were allowed to serve on active duty "The other thing that we get a lot is, "˜well, you don't look like a veteran'," said Matascastillo "If we go to the VA for services, instantly somebody says, "˜Oh, you must be here with your husband'"

The Women Veterans Initiative Working Group, which started meeting in February 2008, found that only 1,500 out of 23,000 women veterans were utilizing services provided by the VA In order to understand where the disconnect was, the group sent a survey out statewide to women veterans After the group received feedback from the women veterans, they sprung into action

"We are working with our legislators and elected officials to bring light to it," said Matascastillo "We are also working with the VA Hospital We started what we call the "Battle Buddy" program at the VA So if a woman veteran is setting up her first appointment or a follow-up appointment, she can call us - we have women veterans who are trained and will go to her appointments with her We will sit with her in the waiting room, and make sure she knows how to get from one place to another, and just to be there with her It's very helpful, especially if it's your first time"

The group also holds an open meeting where they can continue to hear from women veterans, educate them about programs that are available, and connect them with service providers

"Another thing we do, once a month, is hold what we call a "˜coffee talk' at a coffee shop, for women veterans to come and talk and share their stories," Matascastillo said "It's a resource to share the issues and make them aware of what's going on"

The monthly meetings are open and free to the public Meetings are held on the 3rd Thursday of every month from 3-5 pm at various locations For more information, please visit their website at: http://googl/TYWsB

26 August 2011
Story by Sgt Dajon N Schafer
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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Month of the Military Child recognizes contributions of military kids

Posted: 2018-04-07  01:54 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The month of April is designated as the Month of the Military Child to recognize the contributions and sacrifices military children make so their family members can serve. An estimated 15,000 children in Minnesota have been affected by the deployment of a parent.

"Military children bear a lot while their family members serve," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "It is up to us to support these resilient kids and help to lessen their burden."

An event to honor military kids in Minnesota will take place April 13, 2018, at the Mall of America rotunda from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Activities will include appearances by the Teddy Bear Band and meet and greets with Nickelodeon characters.

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Posted: 2018-03-16  08:45 AM
Col. Angela Steward-Randle ST. PAUL, Minn. - Col. Angela Steward-Randle grew up in a military family - her father served in the Army on active duty - but it was a chance encounter with a friend at college that led her to want to make the military a career.

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Her college friend suggested they attend a summer training with the Reserve Officer Training Corps that had no obligation and could earn them some money. The friend never ended up going, but Steward-Randle did. After earning recognition as the top honor graduate and receiving an offer of a scholarship, she was hooked.

Minnesota Guardsman Receives Award for Combating Drugs in his Community

Posted: 2018-03-09  03:13 PM
Counterdrug WOODBURY, Minn. - Staff Sgt. Benjamin Kroll, an analyst with the Minnesota National Guard's Counterdrug Task Force who is assigned to work with the Hennepin County Sherriff's Office was recognized for his achievements as the Analyst of the Year during the 2018 Minnesota Association of Crime and Intelligence Analysts Training Symposium in Woodbury, Minnesota, March 7, 2018.

Through a partnership with Minnesota law enforcement agencies throughout the state, the Minnesota National Guard Counterdrug Task Force (MNCDTF) supports the anti-drug initiatives to counter all primary drug threats and vulnerabilities through the effective application of available assets, said Maj. Jon Dotterer, Counterdrug Coordinator for the State of Minnesota. The goal for the program is to support federal, state, tribal, and local agencies in the detection, disruption, interdiction, and curtailment of illicit drugs.

Kroll is one of sixteen service members on the Counterdrug Task Force that provides this force-multiplying service to our communities against illicit drug-use. With the information that law enforcement provide through their patrols and daily operations, Kroll and his colleagues across the state assist by putting together a figurative picture with all of the gathered information which aids in identifying how to move forward with legal action to deter or prevent the sale or use of illegal narcotic drugs.

Women Opened Doors in Minnesota National Guard

Posted: 2018-03-08  09:05 AM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - "The battlefront is no place for women to be," said Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Kurtzweg, 125th Field Artillery, in an article published in 1976. "There are certain jobs girls say they can do, but they just can't do ... the battlefront is no place for women to be. Other countries in the world use women in combat, but the U.S. has not come around to that way of thinking." Kathy Berg, a New Ulm reporter summarized at the time. "So women in the New Ulm unit take care of personnel files and pay records and leave the fighting to the men."

The Minnesota National Guard has "come around to that way of thinking" since those early days of gender integration. In the last 44 years women have made momentous strides toward inclusion and acceptance. Their accomplishments are testimony to their fortitude and the progressive development of the Minnesota National Guard.

When an accomplished female Soldier is credited with breaking barriers she will often pass that honor to the women that preceded her. Brig. Gen. Johanna Clyborne is such a leader. She acknowledges that she is one of the first females in the Minnesota National Guard who has held key leadership roles, however she sees it differently. "I feel responsible for all women in uniform," said Clyborne. "Women before me opened the door, now I've cleared the room. It's up to the women behind me to hold the room."

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