| Minn. Guard veterans get help in return to family life
by Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
May 14, 2012 MAHTOMEDI, Minn — In 2009 when Kevin Ross left for Iraq with the Minnesota National Guard, he and his wife, Emily, had two children
When he returned they had three The children had grown so much Ross hardly recognized one of his daughters
"The night I got home I remember we are standing in that final formation in the armory," he says, "and I looked out and I saw a little girl sitting on the floor crying As I got closer I hugged my wife and realized that that was my child"
Kevin, 31, a member of the Willmar-based 682nd Engineer Battalion, was away from home for about 18 months
For Emily, 32, holding down the homefront alone and single parenting their two daughters and son (Elena, 9, Lucy, 6, and Isaac, two-and-a-half) was difficult
It was an even bigger adjustment when he got back
"And his responsibilities were all centered around him," she says, "and then coming back to a household of five people and a wife who's been dealing with it alone all this time and is ready for a break, I think it took some time for him to readjust to even what his responsibilities in the family were"
Kevin says it took months before things felt normal "With a deployment it kind of seems to reset the clock, so you go back and you have to relearn how to communicate with each other," he says
The Rosses are one of more than 120 recently deployed military families participating in a groundbreaking University of Minnesota study that aims to make this transition easier
It's called ADAPT (After Deployment, Adaptive Parenting Tools)
ADAPT researchers observe parents and their children to try and understand deployment stress At the same time, researchers are testing parenting techniques on the families
Lead investigator Abi Gewirtz says the goal is to create special parenting tools for military families
"What we know about families under stress, whether it's stress due to deployment or stress due to any other family transition, is that when families are stressed it's parenting that is hit," Gewirtz says
And that affects children
To find out how, Gewirtz and a team from the U and the Minneapolis VA developed a special program for military families with children age 5 to 12 They assign each family to one of two groups: In one they receive written parenting resources In the other they participate in 14-week parenting workshops
Gewirtz says the program teaches parents to communicate effectively with their children and reduce conflict
"Instead of doing what we what we call a drive-by direction -- you know, when you walk past the child and say, 'OK, time to pick up your stuff now,' and go to the other room and then the child is like, 'Huh?' Or a long-distance direction, 'Honey, can you come down now, please!' -- you know, these are more convenient for us but they don't serve us well"
ADAPT recommends that parents give short, simple, face-to-face directions and that they use praise and incentives to encourage good behavior While all families could use the techniques ADAPT teaches, there is new and growing recognition among military leaders that supporting military families makes stronger soldiers
"You know they train the soldiers; you might as well train the families along with them"
- Emily Ross, on a parenting program for military families
At home in Mahtomedi, Kevin Ross stands next to his son and asks him to help set the table as his wife, Emily, makes dinner
While Isaac is too young for the program, the Rosses say the ADAPT techniques have made a big difference with all their children
Before the study, Ross says he would have handled things differently
"I probably would have asked him once or twice and gotten frustrated and done it myself" Ross says learning to speak to his children on their level is very different from what he learned in the military There, soldiers are expected to follow orders without discussion or complaint
The Rosses agree ADAPT isn't a magic bullet The children do not follow directions every time But they have responded positively to the new techniques
Emily Ross says she would like to see ADAPT expanded and shared with military families across the United States
"And it's been wonderful for our family, and we know it would be wonderful for other families as well," she says "It should almost be a requirement for families going through this that they go through training like this You know they train the soldiers; you might as well train the families along with them"
Over the next five years ADAPT researchers will recruit 400 Minnesota military families and follow them
The program is also expanding outside of the metro area, St Cloud and Mankato to serve more recently returned soldiers outstate
Litchfield and Local Veteran Honor Gen. John Vessey at Armory Open House
Posted: 2017-03-10 08:50 AM
LITCHFIELD, Minn. -Bruce Cottington, a Navy veteran of WWII and Korea, donated a bronze bust of Gen. John W. Vessey, Jr. to the Litchfield National Guard unit during the armory's public open house event March 4. Cottington, a Litchfield resident, commands the Minnesota Chapter of the Veterans of Underage Military Service. VUMS members enlisted in the military prior to the minimum age requirement in order to serve their country during WWII. Cottington received the bust from Vessey, a fellow VUMS member. Both enlisted in the military at the age of 16.
The highlight of the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion open house was the unveiling of the sculpture. The unit was very supportive when Cottington proposed donating the sculpture. The Litchfield community has always been very supportive of the National Guard over the years, so the open house was a chance to say 'thanks' to their neighbors. "This was a great opportunity to honor Bruce and to honor Gen. Vessey," said B Co., 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion Commander, Capt. Seth Goreham. Bravo Company also has a tight relationship with the local American Legion and VFW. Many Litchfield citizens are former members of Bravo Company, or the unit's predecessors A Co, 682nd Engineer Battalion, and the 849th Mobility Augmentation Company.
Camp Ripley welcomes new command sergeant major
Posted: 2017-03-08 03:29 PM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The garrison command team of Camp Ripley, family, friends and colleagues from the Minnesota National Guard attended a Change of Responsibility ceremony between Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Worden and Command Sgt. Maj. Matt Erickson, March 5, 2017, at Camp Ripley.
The ceremony was an official "passing of the sword" from one senior noncommissioned officer to the next and assumption of the duties and responsibilities that go along with the position of Garrison Command Sergeant Major.
As with many military ceremonies those in attendance welcomed Erickson as a new member of the team and bid farewell, recognized and thanked Worden for his service.
Norwegian youth recognized for response to vehicle accident
Posted: 2017-02-22 09:59 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Norwegian youths Stian Dahl and Haavard Engen received the Camp Ripley Garrison Commander's coin from Col. Scott St Sauver February 19, 2017, in recognition for reacting to a vehicle accident they witnessed earlier that week.
As part of the U.S.-Norway Reciprocal Troop Exchange, Norwegian youths ages 19-20 are matched up with a host family in order to spend an evening experiencing American culture. In most situations the "Buddy Weekend" as it's called allows the youths to go shopping, attend events and have home-cook meals along with their host family.
"We are able to match up youth members with families all over the state," said Staff Sgt. Tim Krouth, Buddy Weekend organizer. "Lots of the families have hosted one or two of our Norwegian friends for several years in a row now, it a great way to relax and see some of Minnesota."
To the top of the mountain and back, NOREX 44 members embrace the Norwegian winter
Posted: 2017-02-21 01:25 PM
HALTDALEN, Norway - After two days at a base camp near Haltdalen, Norway, Minnesota National Guardsmen participating in the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange were ready for the most challenging aspect of their four-day field training exercise - a ski march up the mountain.
It was Day three of the FTX, meaning members of the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange had slowly adjusted to surviving and thriving while living in a winter environment and also honed their skills on cross country skills well enough to begin a climb that would take nearly three hours.
"Our goal was to get you to know how to use the winter, see how the Norwegians use the winter, and how we survive the winter so we can conduct combat," said Vidar Aune, one of several members of Home Guard 12 guiding the Minnesota National Guard Soldiers and Airmen during their training here. "By getting the experience living outside in the snow, you manage to survive it and handle it quite well."