/*********************************************** * 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 ***********************************************/
History
Minnesota National Guard
Katherine Kersten: Helping hands stretch out to state's military families

In December 2003, First Lady Mary Pawlenty traveled to Bosnia to visit Minnesota National Guard Soldiers deployed there At a tiny, bleak forward operating base, she stood alone one night with Lt. Col. Gary Olson of the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry, headquartered in Moorhead "It was dark; it was cold I said, 'How are you doing, so far away from home?' " Pawlenty recalls "Tears came into his eyes -- that doesn't happen often with a Soldier 'I'm doing great,' he said Then he pulled out a picture of his wife and children 'This is who I worry about,' he told me"I said, 'You worry about doing your job Let us take care of your family' "

Pawlenty has dedicated much of her time as First Lady to easing those kinds of worries through her Military Family Care Initiative

Pawlenty started the program in March 2003, when it became clear that Minnesota Soldiers would be called to duty in Iraq "At the time, there was an outpouring of affection and support across the state, and we wanted to harness it," she says

After brainstorming with military leaders and others, she settled on an effort to connect deployed Soldiers' families with volunteers who could take on chores that might suddenly seem overwhelming: shoveling snow, cleaning a garage, even organizing children's birthday parties

"The beauty of the program is that it's so easy to use," Pawlenty explains Her website, at wwwfirstladystatemnus, connects families with nearby organizations -- churches, Chambers of Commerce, Girl Scout troops, school classes -- that want to extend a helping hand The website lists organizations from Ada to Zumbrota, and the program is available for families of all deployed Soldiers, whether National Guard, Reserve or active duty

Do tasks like shoveling snow and cleaning gutters sound small and insignificant? Small, yes Insignificant, no Pawlenty has learned the value of such acts of kindness from personal experience

"It was shortly after Tim was elected, and just before the holidays," she says "I was feeling overwhelmed I called Tim's oldest sister, Peggy, in tears, and told her, 'I don't think I can do this' She said, 'Mary, just for a few days, let us help you' She and other relatives picked up Christmas gifts for our girls, wrapped presents -- they just surrounded me with love I realized then that a little bit of help at the right time can make all the difference"

That, she says, is the idea behind the Family Care Initiative: "to surround families with love in the little things"

Take Susannah Fisher of Apple Valley, whose husband, Master Sgt Joe Fisher, was deployed to Iraq in 2004 and 2005 with Bravo Company, 134th Signal Battalion based in Hastings The couple's two children, Jared and Corrina, were 5 and 3 when their dad shipped out

"It was an extremely tough time," recalls Fisher "You're in shock at deployment But you're a strong Army wife You don't think you need help"

Finally, however, she adds, "you come to the end of your resources -- family, friends and neighbors"

For Fisher, that moment came in July 2005 With her husband gone, she was constantly searching for male role models for Jared When her brother offered to fly the family out to California, so he could spend time fishing with Jared, she jumped at the chance

But who would care for the family's menagerie of animals -- three cats, a dog and a fish?

Then Fisher remembered the Family Care Initiative "One night I got up in the middle of the night -- you can't sleep when they're away --and went on Mary Pawlenty's website I picked out a nearby church -- Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville"

Soon after, volunteers Daryl and Jackie Tweeton were standing on her doorstep, ready for pet-sitting duty The Fisher family spent a much-needed, worry-free week in California

Pawlenty's efforts for military families go beyond websites and networking On Saturday, the solarium in the governor's residence was crowded with animated guests A state dinner? No, a brunch for nine new mothers and their babies, with energetic siblings in tow The occasion? A celebration for moms who have given birth while their babies' fathers were deployed in Iraq or elsewhere and have not yet returned

Now many of those deployments have been extended, creating daunting new challenges for the families left behind "These Soldiers and their families are bearing an extraordinary burden," says Pawlenty "But again and again, our Soldiers square their shoulders, look you in the eye, and say, 'It's an honor to serve'"

Fortunately, Minnesota volunteers are answering, "You do your job Let us take care of your family"

By Katherine Kersten, Star Tribune
1/21/07
Join the conversation at my blog, Think Again, which can be found at www.startribune.com/thinkagain

Source: www.startribune.com



Articles archive

In The News archive

Media Advisory archive

Latest News

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."



Minnesota-based aviation unit takes part in Warfighter Exercise

Posted: 2018-06-08  11:59 AM
34ECAB WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - More than 150 Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade are here participating in a multi-echelon training event, Warfighter Exercise 18-5, May 30 to June 15.

The exercise, which is part live and part virtual, is testing the St. Paul, Minnesota-based aviation unit's ability to conduct operations and mission command in a high-intensity, complex operating environment. Soldiers are being challenged to take decisive action as they focus on air-ground operations -- or synchronizing and integrating aviation operations into the scheme of maneuver planned and conducted by forces on the ground.

In this case, the units on the ground are being commanded by the Rosemount, Minnesota-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, which is also participating in the exercise.



148th Fighter Wing hosts STEM program for Duluth-area students

Posted: 2018-06-05  08:52 AM
Starbase Duluth DULUTH, Minn. - Dozens of community and industry leaders passionate about helping children become more engaged in science, technology, engineering and math gathered at the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth, Minn., May 24, 2018, to see what STARBASE Minnesota Duluth is doing for young students in the area.

STARBASE is a Department of Defense youth program that engages students in STEM studies. The program began in 1991, and STARBASE Minnesota was founded in 1993 in St. Paul, which expanded to Duluth in July 2017.

Currently, the school program is open to fifth-grade students, said Charity S. Rupp, the director of STARBASE Minnesota Duluth. The summer camp will serve students in 4-6th grade. Eventually, she hopes the program will expand into STARBASE 2.0 to serve middle school students as an after school program during the academic school year.



Minnesota National Guard leaders visit traveling tribute in Austin

Posted: 2018-05-22  10:16 AM
Traveling Wall AUSTIN, Minn. - A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was on display May 16-20, in Austin and leaders of the 347th Regional Support Group took the opportunity to visit during the event's closing ceremony.

The display, dubbed the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, was hosted by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Austin and featured a near-replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C.

"It was an honor to be part of this humbling and moving tribute to our Vietnam veterans," said Col. Stephen Schemenauer. "The traveling Vietnam Wall is a powerful display, and this event provided an opportunity to meet, and thank, service members from WWII to present-day conflicts. Regardless of their branch of service, or the era or conflict in which they served, we all share a common bond."



Article archive
 
top