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Minnesota National Guard
Warrior to Citizen Conference preps military for civilian work

ST CLOUD, Minn " More than 70 people attended the annual conference of the Warrior to Citizen Group held on the campus of St Cloud State University (SCSU) in the Atwood Ballroom on March 27, 2012   

Opening remarks for the conference were given by State Representative Tim O'Driscoll, as well as a welcome to the conference attendees by St Cloud City Attorney Matt Staehling 

Chief of Chaplains for the Minnesota National Guard, (Col) John Morris, provided insight to audience members on what it is like for a veteran returning to society after a combat tour  "Clergy play an important role in the reintegration process because they can offer something the VA, doctors or therapists can't offer and that is absolution," Morris stated  "A psychiatrist can offer medication, but a pastor can offer absolution"

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Dr John Eggers, chief of the Counseling Department at SCSU, discussed the transition Service members face when they move from combat to the classroom  "We see Service members who are very high-functioning," said Eggers  He added, "What we also see is a Servicemember who may struggle with transitioning from a highly-structured environment to a highly-unstructured environment" 

Audience members spent the morning listening to panels of experts discuss topics ranging from hiring veterans, to understanding the physical, mental and spiritual needs of veterans, to veterans and the justice system 

"This has been a helpful training session," said conference attendee Staff Sgt Amanda Panek   "I want to pursue a masters degree in social work and this type of training helps me prepare for the kind of course work I hope to undertake"

The half-day training concluded with a panel discussion featuring the topic of veterans and the justice system  Police Sergeant Martin Sayre who works in Public Information for the St Cloud Police Dept, and who is retired from the Minnesota National Guard, had this to say, "A lot of guys who are in the military are interested in law enforcement because a lot of the lingo is the same and we have a rank structure like the military  It is something they are used to"  He added, "I tell them to slow down and take their time going through the application process" 

March 27, 2012
Maj John Donovan
Camp Ripley Public Affairs Office

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