| 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
Minnesota National Guard Remembers the Holocaust with Jewish Community Relations Council
Posted: 2017-04-24 10:43 AM
Washington - Members of the Minnesota National Guard and the Air Force Reserve traveled to Washington D.C. with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (also known as the JCRC), to visit the Holocaust Museum, April 4, 2017, to honor the victims of the Holocaust. Also, traveling with this group were St. Paul and Minneapolis police officers along with students from various high schools around the state. For those in uniform that day, it was an opportunity to see, hear and experience the stories of victims and survivors of the Holocaust.
Each Service member who attended was asked to bring back a summary of their experience in the form of a presentation, professional discussion or briefing to their respective unit in order to help other Guard members better understand and remember that horrible event, to honor the courage of the victims and survivors, and to remain vigilant as members of the U.S. military.
"The honor and privilege of accompanying members of the Minnesota National Guard to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. met so many goals," said Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the JCRC. "I wanted to reinforce the importance of the commitment of the U.S. military to democracy. After all, it was the Allies that defeated Nazi Germany and ultimately put an end to the Holocaust."
Learning to instruct professionalism and discipline
Posted: 2017-04-19 02:15 PM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - It was a challenging and rewarding two weeks for members attending the Army National Guard Funeral Honors Instructor Course, April 1-14, at Camp Ripley.
Soldiers of National Guard units from all over the United States took part in the course designed to educate team leaders in a variety of funeral honor detail tasks, traditions and responsibilities.
"It's a stressful course, but for our job, we have to be prepared to do our job under stress; and we all really benefitted from that," said Class Honor Grad, Sgt. Ryan Valline of the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry.
Chaplains support Muslim Soldiers by finding common ground
Posted: 2017-04-18 01:42 PM
ROSEMOUNT, Minn. - The Soldiers of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division had a unique opportunity to speak with one of the U.S. Army's five Muslim chaplains April 7-10, 2017. U.S. Army Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Khallid Shabazz, I Corps deputy command chaplain, travelled from Fort Lewis, Washington, to Minnesota to provide professional development for the division chaplain section.
"Soldiers perform at a higher level when they are spiritually fit," said Minnesota National Guard Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Buddy Winn, the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division command chaplain. "And, it's our job as chaplains to make sure Soldiers have their spiritual needs met, regardless of faith. Having Chaplain Shabazz here as a Muslim Chaplain provides the diversity in religious background that we can't provide internally."
There are five major religions supported by the chaplaincy: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist, but over 200 religions are recognized. Chaplains can only perform services for their particular religion, but they can provide support for all Soldiers, regardless of their faith.
Howling with pride - Minnesota Service members honored by MN Timberwolves
Posted: 2017-04-14 04:25 PM
ST. PAUL, Minn. - For the third consecutive year, Minnesota service members were honored with on-court recognition and other VIP treatments as part of the Minnesota Timberwolves Heroes of the Pack Program.
"We are very appreciative for what the military does for us, and we wanted to give something back to honor the military," said Roger McCabe, who along with wife, Nancy, is a driving force behind the recognitions through the FastBreak Foundation and Roger & Nancy McCabe Foundation. "This is our way of doing it."
Having lived through the Vietnam War - and with Roger and Nancy both having parents who served - the two philanthropists decided a few years back to build upon existing recognition efforts already underway by the Timberwolves. And with that, recognitions that were typically happening at Target Center in November expanded to include Minnesota Service members from all branches at every home game - a total of 41 honorees per season.