/*********************************************** * Chrome CSS Drop Down Menu- (c) Dynamic Drive DHTML code library (www.dynamicdrive.com) * This notice MUST stay intact for legal use * Visit Dynamic Drive at http://www.dynamicdrive.com/ for full source code ***********************************************/
Minnesota National Guard
Iraq, Afghan wars cycle down, anti-suicide program for Minn. veterans ramps up (audio)

by Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
November 1, 2011

St Paul, Minn — On the heels of an intensive campaign to prevent solders from committing suicide, the Minnesota National Guard is seeking state funds to continue reaching at-risk veterans

Senior National Guard leaders have traveled throughout Minnesota since September, teaching guard members how to recognize the symptoms that can lead colleagues to try to take their own lives To meet the growing demand for services, they plan to ask the Legislature will approve more funds for the guard's Case management, Outreach, Referral and Education program

Minnesota is home to more than 380,000 veterans According to data from Veterans Administration facilities, 126 veterans served by VA hospitals, clinics and other sites in Minneapolis; St Cloud, Minn; and Fargo and Sioux Falls, ND, committed suicide in the last decade But Veterans Administration officials say that could be an undercount, since many veterans do not receive services at the VA

Eight-year Marine Corps veteran Jason Christiansen, 35, of St Paul, is among those veterans who have come close to taking his life When the financial crisis hit in 2008, he lost his job as a technician at an auto dealer

"When I got laid off my bills all piled up," he said "I couldn't pay anything, so everything I had: my credit cards, my car loan, everything all went into debt collection"

Christiansen finally found a similar job, but for less than half his old pay His financial situation quickly spiraled out of control To avoid calls from debt collectors he stopped answering his phone He became depressed, suffered from anxiety and was distraught over losing his job and his financial difficulties

His identity as a Marine made being unemployed unbearable because he felt worthless and a drain on society

"At one point, I was sitting there with a gun in my mouth," he said

But at that moment, an instant message from a sick friend popped up on his computer screen and Christiansen didn't go through with his plan to kill himself His girlfriend pushed him to seek help

That's how he found the CORE program

"It was instantaneous; it was like this giant weight lifted off my shoulders," he said "I felt like I had a chance Before, it felt like I had no chance at all, and without it I can honestly tell you I have no idea what I was going to do"

Now that he has a better job, he and his girlfriend plan to marry

The CORE program was started by Veterans Affairs and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota to help military personnel, veterans and their families with medical care and mental health, substance abuse, financial and job counseling — whatever they need to make it in civilian life Services are free

CORE aims to address the kinds of serious issues that can lead to even worse problems down the road, like suicide While many of the veterans it serves are eligible for services through the VA, the system is complicated People often don't know what they're eligible for or how to find the help they need

Mary Beth Galey, director of counseling for Lutheran Social Services, said the CORE program is especially valuable for outstate military members, who may live miles from a VA facility

"This offers a greater catchment for a bigger group of people than a traditional military service would offer and I think that is what has actually made it so popular," she said "It offers services to a wider net of people, the veteran feels like there is a bigger opportunity to get support"

Galey said most clients need help with depression or other mental health issues But counselors often help them with other problems The program has served about 5,000 people since 2008, and services are available at non-military facilities

The Minnesota National Guard keeps its own data on suicide Officials report that 22 members of the guard have killed themselves since 2007, when the force began keeping complete statistics Prior to that, a suicide was counted only if it happened while a guardsman was training So far this year, there have been four suicides A fifth is under investigation

In recent years the Minnesota National Guard has been battling the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health problems The guard has launched a host of programs to help troops be more resilient during and after deployment

Still, Lt. Col. John Morris, State Chaplain for the Minnesota Army National Guard, acknowledges that suicide remains a challenge He said the Minnesota National Guard's suicide profile is young and male

"For a host of reasons they lose hope and in our case the profile of a person who loses hope is a male under the age of 25, wrestling with relationship issues, sometimes alcohol, sometimes finance on top of that and the despair leads to the tragic solution of taking their lives," he said

Morris said more needs to be done to connect these young veterans with help, and with good civilian jobs The need will be critical as thousands of Minnesota soldiers complete deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan and return home to a dismal job market

Need help? Any veteran or family member can call (888) 881-8261, or (612) 879-5320 in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, and be directed to services nearest their location Help is also available online via the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and Lutheran Social Services

Article source

Articles archive

In The News archive

Media Advisory archive

Latest News

Minnesota State Fair Military Appreciation Day to recognize women veterans

Posted: 2018-08-27  12:34 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The Minnesota State Fair's eighth annual Military Appreciation Day will take place Tuesday, August 28, and provide an educational opportunity for all fairgoers to learn about Minnesota's military community. This year's theme is honoring Minnesota's women veterans.

"The Minnesota State Fair is a great opportunity to bring our community together to show appreciation for the service and sacrifice of our state's veterans," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, The Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "This year, I am proud to stand with women veterans as we highlight their stories and contributions to our armed forces."

Minnesota Guardsmen learn survival skills, train with Norwegian counterparts

Posted: 2018-07-03  01:36 PM
NOREX 45 Over the course of 10 days, 100 Soldiers and Airmen from the Minnesota National Guard who traveled to Norway June 17-26, 2018, for the 45th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange learned valuable survival skills and shared their knowledge with members of the Norwegian Home Guard. This year's exchange was the second to take place during the summer months in the history of the longest-running military partnership between two nations.

"It was a great experience for both the Minnesota National Guard and the Norwegian Home Guard," said Capt. 'Kiwi' HorgA�ien, the senior Norwegian instructor. "A cultural exchange, a social exchange and military exchange all packed into one."

The 45th exchange got off to a late start, with flight delays causing the trip to be shortened from its normal length of two weeks. The delay meant that the Minnesota Guardsmen jumped right into training, heading out to the field after just a few hours of sleep.

133rd Airlift Wing Emphasizes Combat Readiness Training

Posted: 2018-06-29  10:48 AM
Alpena ALPENA, Michigan - Approximately 300 U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 133rd Airlift Wing participated in a readiness exercise at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, Alpena, Mich.

The exercise, tagged as Iron Ore, was designed test the Airmen abilities to set up operations at an unfamiliar location and receive in depth training on Ability-To-Survive and Operate (ATSO) principles while supporting airlift and aeromedical flight operations.

To ensure mission success and readiness, Airmen had to complete training at home station prior to leaving for Alpena. Some of this training included weapons qualification, gas mask fit testing, Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) familiarization, self-aid and buddy care and career field training.

Red Bulls Kickoff Division Warfighter

Posted: 2018-06-13  01:38 PM
DIV WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - "A Warfighter is an exercise that allows the Division to evaluate their ability to maneuver assets in a battle," said Master Sgt. Greg Weaver, the Operations Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge for the Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion. "It is designed to focus on particular areas and specific objectives to be evaluated or tested."

The Division has geared its' planning and training efforts in preparation for Warfighter since July 2017. Coordinating transportation for Soldiers and equipment was often on the mind of Maj. David Johansson, the logistics officer for the 34th ID. With the coordination of Johansson and his team, troops and equipment all converged on Camp Atterbury, enlisting the help of 89 railcars, 280 tractor-trailers, and nearly 50 buses for the movement.

"I like to say my job is to 'quiet the noise'". Johansson continued, "The noise being a real life logistical problem that could impede the exercise."

Article archive