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Minnesota National Guard
MN Troops 'Betrayed'; Won't Get Pay Until After Oct. 1

Hundreds of Minnesota National Guard troops, caught in a frustrating ordeal to get bonus payments that were summarily taken away during their year-long deployment to Iraq and Kuwait only to be restored by an act of Congress in May, will have to keep waiting

The lump-sum payments now will not be paid until after the new federal fiscal year begins Oct 1, according to guidance provided this week from the Department of Defense to the Minnesota National Guard

"We wish that it would have been done a little bit sooner," Lt. Col. Matt Vatter, chief of personnel for the Minnesota Army National Guard, said in an interview Friday

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS first contacted the Pentagon July 6 to inquire about the status of the payments, after hearing from concerned service members that the payments had not arrived and would be smaller than first expected

Rep John Kline, also contacted last week by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, spoke to the Defense Department's Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness on Thursday, his office said, to press for full and prompt payment of the Post Deployment/Mobilization Respite Absence Program (PDMRA) benefits to an estimated 49,000 troops nationwide

It was Kline's bill HR4045, supported by the rest of Minnesota's Congressional delegation and signed by President Barack Obama at the end of May, that ordered the Pentagon to grandfather in those 49,000 troops When 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS contacted the Defense Department last week, the Pentagon had still not implemented the law

"Our troops deserve better than to fall through the cracks of a broken bureaucratic process," Rep Kline wrote in a letter to Under Secretary Erin Conaton sent Thursday

"As a result," of the delay since Kline's bill was passed and signed into law in May restoring the benefits, Kline wrote, "our soldiers are frustrated and feel betrayed by their leadership, and I urge you to do everything you can to help them"

Spc Richard Leonard, a nine-year veteran of the Minnesota National Guard and single father from Woodbury, estimates he'll lose about $2,000 because of the delay in processing benefits

Since the Pentagon did not process the full PDMRA benefits while Leonard and approximately 800 Minnesota guardsmen were still on active duty, the troops will no longer have the option of extra leave - essentially paid time off - at the end of their recent deployment and will instead be offered a lump sum payment, minus a housing allowance and other benefits that are accorded to active-duty troops

Lt. Col. Vatter estimates that by the time the Pentagon processes the payments, 99 percent of Minnesota troops eligible will no longer be on active duty, and thus will not receive those active-duty benefits

"It was something that was promised to us and we banked on that I banked on that, I know for sure," Spc Leonard said in an interview Friday

The Minnesota National Guard plans to send a memo soon to all affected guardsmen explaining the new timetable, Lt. Col. Vatter said The Guard expects to receive more information from Army headquarters after August 10th about the payment process

Watch our story below for more information
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Iowa Red Bull takes command of 34th Infantry Division

Posted: 2017-12-13  10:11 AM
Minnesota National Guard JOHNSTON, Iowa - Brig. Gen. Benjamin J. Corell, Deputy Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard, assumed command of the 34th Infantry Division "Red Bulls" during a ceremony in Rosemount, Minnesota, on December 9, 2017.

Headquartered in Minnesota, the division has been commanded almost-exclusively by members of the Minnesota National Guard since 1968.

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Posted: 2017-12-12  11:29 AM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade (ECAB), who recently celebrated a year full of achievements, have embraced a new name: Red Devils.

The St. Paul-based unit hosted its annual aviation brigade ball Dec. 9, at the Envision Event Center in Oakdale, Minnesota, where the unit's new logo was unveiled.

Soldiers of the 34th ECAB, which falls under and supports the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, will continue to wear the Red Bull insignia on their uniforms. However, they will now be known and referred to as the Red Devils, a name that pays homage to the division's historical accomplishments and fierce warfighting.



Minnesota Nice Extends to Puerto Rico

Posted: 2017-12-08  12:08 PM
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Eleven of those Airmen are from the Minnesota National Guard's 148th Fighter Wing out of Duluth, Minn. and the 133rd Airlift Wing out of St. Paul, Minn., are no exception in their desire to lend a helping hand. They have been at Camp Santiago, Puerto Rico, since before Thanksgiving and will leave around mid-December. Their mission is to feed military and civilian hurricane relief workers, giving them the much-needed fuel to complete their mission throughout the day.



Governor Mark Dayton installs new Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General

Posted: 2017-11-04  04:16 PM
TAG installation ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton administered the oath of office to Maj. Gen. Jon A. Jensen, installing him as the Minnesota National Guard's 31st Adjutant General during a ceremony in St. Paul, November 4, 2017.

"General Jensen has been a tremendous leader of the Minnesota National Guard throughout his years of dedicated service," said Governor Dayton. "He has served in two top leadership positions, as the Commanding General of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, and also as the Chief of Staff at the Guard's Joint Force Headquarters. I am confident that he will continue to provide the same outstanding leadership as his predecessor, General Rick Nash."

Jensen most recently served as the Commanding General of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division. He previously held positions as Deputy Commanding General, United States Army Africa and Southern European Task Force, Minnesota National Guard Director of the Joint Staff and Minnesota National Guard Assistant Adjutant General - Army.



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