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Minnesota National Guard
Women help carry VFW's torch as older vets pass away

ROSEMOUNT, Minn — On Wednesdays, the Rosemount VFW regulars head to the post for bingo night The weekly game is open to the public and helps fund the VFW's operations

Maj Kristen Auge, center, sells bingo sheets Wednesday, July 25, 2012, at VFW Post 9433 in Rosemount Auge is one of a growing number of female service members who are getting involved in traditionally male-dominated VFWs She volunteers each week at the VFW working Wednesday bingo nights (MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson)

Minnesota National Guard Maj Kristin Auge volunteers at the post selling bingo cards to the players And though she lives just a few miles away, she had never been inside this VFW until last spring when she joined

It took a little more work that she thought it would

"I walked up to one of the guys and I said I wanted to sign up to be in the organization and I said 'I'm here to join' And he says, 'Well, you've had to have been in the service' And I said, 'Well, I am, and I still am' And he says, 'Well, you'll have had to have deployed' 'Yes, I just got back from Iraq' And he was like 'Oh, OK, I guess I'll take your paperwork,' " she recalled

The older members welcomed Auge, so she cajoled some initially reluctant female friends into joining

Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, once vital parts of small communities in Minnesota, have seen ranks fall drastically over the last few decades as older veterans pass away But Minnesota VFW officials say they're seeing an influx of women like Auge joining the organization after coming back from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan

The trend is stronger in Minnesota than in neighboring states, although the reason isn't clear Auge said she wanted a place where she could spend time with the women who were part of her support system during deployments And she wanted to maintain contact with a military culture that had made up the structure of her life for more than two decades

Auge and her close friend Bosnia veteran Diane Sandberg successfully campaigned for leadership positions at the post Sandberg said they quickly saw the institution was facing extinction She jokes that, as women, they were better equipped to solve the problem

"We definitely have pluses that the men don't have We hear everything It's not selective hearing We can balance and juggle where they're just, you know, more single-minded," she said "I know I'm being funny but we want to make sure this is there for the future and we want to do our part, now that we can, to make sure that it stays sacred"

Sandberg said veterans — male and female — need a place where they can spend time with others who understand their experiences

"Wars are not going to stop, military service is not going to stop and so future soldiers, men and women, need a place to go, and they need a place to decompress at times," Sandberg said
But sometimes the generations — and the genders — clash over things like the decor Iraq veteran Linda Ausen doesn't like it

"The club is kinda dark and dreary, and we want to brighten up the place," Ausen said "Some of these guys are still thinking 'Oh no, it's fine, we like the dark wood paneling' "

Sometimes the clashes are about behavior Korean War veteran Kenneth Talbert said some older vets don't realize you can't just give someone a good-natured pat on the bottom

"That's part of the problem, I think, is the sexual harassment area," Talbert said

Rosemount post Commander Marvin Jansma, a Vietnam War vet, said male members are watching themselves

"You can only go so far," Jansma said "You just have to behave yourself

Jansma said he's grateful for new members and officers, regardless of their gender As his generation ages, he said it's getting harder to maintain the post

"When it comes to the young ladies that we've got here, we're thankful, and there's challenges, but we have opportunities," he said

Jansma said those opportunities mean the post is more likely to survive and thrive when his generation is gone
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Minnesota National Guard leaders visit traveling tribute in Austin

Posted: 2018-05-22  10:16 AM
Traveling Wall AUSTIN, Minn. - A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was on display May 16-20, in Austin and leaders of the 347th Regional Support Group took the opportunity to visit during the event's closing ceremony.

The display, dubbed the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, was hosted by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Austin and featured a near-replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C.

"It was an honor to be part of this humbling and moving tribute to our Vietnam veterans," said Col. Stephen Schemenauer. "The traveling Vietnam Wall is a powerful display, and this event provided an opportunity to meet, and thank, service members from WWII to present-day conflicts. Regardless of their branch of service, or the era or conflict in which they served, we all share a common bond."

Minnesota Aviators lead multi-state National Guard partnership for NTC rotation

Posted: 2018-05-21  03:51 PM
2-147 NTC FORT IRWIN, Calif. - The Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 147th Assault Helicopter Battalion is working together with aviation units from four different states to provide support to the Tennessee-based 278th Armored Calvary Regiment during a rotation at National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California.

Making up Task Force Ragnar is Utah-based B Company, 1st Battalion, 211th Assault Reconnaissance Battalion; Nevada-based B Company, 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion; Michigan-based C Company, 3-238th GSAB; and Minnesota-based A, D, E and Headquarters Companies, 2-147th AHB and F Company, 1-189th GSAB.

"Early coordination with the units across four states combined with exceptional unit leadership and motivated Soldiers helped us to quickly build the task force when we closed on Fort Irwin," said Lt. Col. Kevin O'Brien, Task Force Commander. "I was thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and teamwork of task force Soldiers. This was an outstanding training opportunity that challenged every Soldier to grow as individuals and units daily."

Deployed Minnesota Guardsman honors grandfather, Hmong heritage

Posted: 2018-05-17  09:57 AM
Brandon Xiong CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - "My heritage is Hmong," said 21 year-old Minnesota National Guard Spec. Brandon Xiong from his desk at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. "A low-key culture that originated from southern Asia. Hmong is not a place, but it is a people."

Xiong, the eldest grandson of the late Col. Song Leng Xiong, is deployed in Kuwait as an information technician for Area Support Group - Kuwait.

"We were not nomadic, but have been in many different conflicts," said Xiong. "Many places I go, I am questioned about my nationality and when answered, end up being even more confused. There is a movie called, "Gran Torino", where Clint Eastwood is introduced to the Hmong culture and I think it portrays the Hmong people not so terribly."

Month of the Military Child recognizes contributions of military kids

Posted: 2018-04-07  01:54 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The month of April is designated as the Month of the Military Child to recognize the contributions and sacrifices military children make so their family members can serve. An estimated 15,000 children in Minnesota have been affected by the deployment of a parent.

"Military children bear a lot while their family members serve," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "It is up to us to support these resilient kids and help to lessen their burden."

An event to honor military kids in Minnesota will take place April 13, 2018, at the Mall of America rotunda from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Activities will include appearances by the Teddy Bear Band and meet and greets with Nickelodeon characters.

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