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Minnesota National Guard
Our view: D.C. delegation scores for Minnesota soldiers

Nearly 3,000 Minnesota “Red Bulls” — as the National Guard members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team are famously nicknamed — already were deployed, already were in Kuwait last fall, when the sucker-punch edict came down

The Defense Department decided to cut by at least half the number of days of leave promised to Guard members and Reservists who were deployed beyond their usual rotation cycles The extra time off had been granted in 2007 as part of the Post Deployment/Mobilization Respite Absence program, or PDMRA In cases of extraordinary sacrifice — meaning more-than-expected time away from family and lives back home — Guard members and Reservists were given four extra leave days for every extra month of active duty they were made to serve That suddenly changed in October to only one or two extra leave days, depending on location of service

“In the middle of their deployments, nearly 50,000 active-duty Guard members and Reservists learned that an important benefit already promised to them would not be honored,” US Sen Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn, wrote in a column for Memorial Day weekend “That was wrong”

But fixable, thanks to Klobuchar and others, including others who represent Northeastern Minnesota’s interests in Washington, DC, namely US Sen Al Franken, D-Minn, and US Rep Chip Cravaack, R-Minn  Klobuchar introduced legislation to guarantee “that all of the reserve-component troops originally eligible for the full PDMRA benefit should receive what was promised to them,” as she wrote “When the Pentagon changed the policy, it should have made clear that troops currently serving on active duty would be grandfathered in under the original policy But it didn’t … You would think it might be pretty simple for the Defense Department to correct its mistake Of course, that wasn’t the case”

Franken co-sponsored the legislation He also ripped off a strongly worded letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

“They have served courageously,” Franken wrote of Minnesota’s National Guard members “It is unfair to take away benefits they were promised”

Making matters worse, as Franken pointed out in his letter, “This is not the first time the Red Bulls have encountered problems with their earned PDMRA benefits Within days of being sworn in to the Senate in mid-2009, I co-sponsored a bill that redressed the failure to compensate service members … for eligible service”

In the House, Cravaack co-sponsored the companion bill

“When I attended the Red Bulls’ deployment ceremony last year in Pine City, Minn, one of the commanding officers in the brigade, Lt Col Eddie Frizell, said to the families, ‘I’ll bring them all home,’ ” Cravaack, a 24-year veteran of the US Navy, recalled in a statement “True to his word, the first thing Lt Col Frizell said in a hand salute to Maj Gen Richard Nash, the adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard, when his feet touched the ground (upon returning to) Minnesota was, ‘I brought them all home’ I do not think it is too much to ask that those who were promised 24 days of extra leave for up to two years of deployed service should receive that paid leave”

Doing the right thing wasn’t too much to ask, as it turned out Thanks to the actions and urgings of Klobuchar, Franken, Cravaack and others, the bipartisan legislation (how could it have been anything but bipartisan?) passed and was signed into law this month by President Obama

A wrong was made right Elected leaders worked well together to fix a problem

“This is a problem that should never have happened But it did And it should not have taken an act of Congress and the signature of the president to fix it But it did,” Klobuchar wrote “In the end, what’s most important is that our nation kept faith with our dedicated men and women in uniform When they signed up to serve and defend our country, the door was open and they were welcomed in When they return home and look for their hard-earned benefits, they shouldn’t find a door that’s closed with red tape”

Published May 29, 2012, 12:00 AM
Article source
http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/232746/group/Opinion/



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Operation Future Warrior, rain or shine

Posted: 2017-05-24  01:12 PM
Operation Future Warrior More than 900 recruits from the Minnesota National Guard came to Camp Ripley Friday through Sunday for Operation Future Warrior.

Young men and women who volunteered to join the Minnesota Army National Guard got to experience a small taste of basic training and military training during the three-day event.

"The intent of Operation Future Warrior is removing the mystery of the training recruits will experience when attending Basic Combat and Advance Individualized Training," said Lt. Col. Eduardo Suarez, recruiting and retention battalion commander.



St. Paul-based Combat Aviation Brigade welcomes new senior enlisted leader

Posted: 2017-05-23  08:03 AM
Hellkamp ARDEN HILLS, Minn. - The Minnesota National Guard's 34th Combat Aviation Brigade welcomed a new senior enlisted leader during a change of responsibility ceremony, May 21, 2017, at the Arden Hills Army Training Site.

Command Sgt. Maj. Mitchell Hellkamp assumed duties as the unit's senior noncommissioned officer (NCO) from Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Cunnien, who served in the position for the past two years and will be retiring from the military later this year.

"Command Sgt. Maj. Cunnien is one of the finest leaders that I have worked with in my career," said Col. Shawn Manke, commander of the 34th CAB. "He sets the example for all noncommissioned officers and Soldiers to emulate. He is a true professional, as a visible leader and teacher for the Soldiers of the combat aviation brigade. We're grateful for his many years of service, and we wish him well as he closes out his military career and enters the next chapter in his life."



Families recognized for sacrifices during Guard deployment

Posted: 2017-05-22  10:57 AM
Welcome Home ST. CLOUD, Minn. - Soldiers of B Co., 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion were welcomed home May 20, 2017, at the River's Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota. During the ceremony, families were recognized for their sacrifices during the year-long deployment.

"I often tell Soldiers and truly believe that as hard as our jobs are at times, our families have the harder job at home," said Lt. Col. Kevin O'Brien, commander of the 2-147 Assault Helicopter Battalion. "Because Army family members have a unique burden that many of their friends and families cannot understand, they form family readiness groups, or FRGs, to share information and provide support to one another."

The company's FRG leader, Rhiannon Knutson, wife of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Tom Knutson, was in constant contact with the unit's families and went above and beyond what is normally expected of FRG leaders, said the unit's readiness non-commissioned officer, Sgt. 1st Class Mark Wood.



Camp Ripley's Training Support Unit keeps the base running

Posted: 2017-05-16  12:41 PM
Camp Ripley CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The Camp Ripley Training Support Unit is designated to the care, upkeep and assistance to the installation and those utilizing the facility.

"The Training Support Unit's (TSU) primary focus is to support unit training requirements and ensure smooth operations here on Camp Ripley and the Arden Hills Army Training Site in the metro," said Sgt. 1st Class Terry Clabo, Training Support Unit Readiness NCO.

Camp Ripley features numerous ranges and state-of-the-art training facilities to support military, law enforcement, first responder and inter-agency partner training requirements. The installation is structured to have a full complement of automated small arms and large caliber weapon ranges as well as several specialized training facilities.



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