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Minnesota National Guard
Beyond the Yellow Ribbon helps recognize military men and women

No matter what your position on the wars, we honor the warriors this Veterans Week

Gone are the days, thank goodness, when warriors who returned from the Vietnam War were greeted shamefully

Now, communities across the state are organizing Beyond the Yellow Ribbon units, designed to organize their resources and to help military families in every way possible, particularly those recently deployed or returning from deployment
These families and those returning from deployment face challenges adjusting to civilian life and to their families

The National Guard particularly is involving Yellow Ribbon units to help their members adjust to civilian life

One challenge for those who have organized Yellow Ribbon units is locating the families who need the help and are reluctant to ask for it Due to privacy laws, their military units are not able to provide those names

The hope of Yellow Ribbon units is that if organized, families will come forward

So, this is an appeal to military families to come forward if you need help and your Yellow Ribbon community will go out of its way to assist you

There also is a State Yellow Ribbon web site for guidance

A Yellow Ribbon community has to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to be certified by the state A steering committee writes the plan and follows it up after state certification That plan has key areas of city leadership, veterans organizations, K-12 education and youth programs, public safety and judicial, business and employers, faith based, medical, social services and volunteer groups

Yellow Ribbon organizers are finding that initially families are asking for little things: repairing, fixing pluming and electrical problems, mowing lawns, painting houses, caring for children

One example is a mother who needed help to move from her home in St Cloud to her parents’ home in Brooklyn Park; 17 Yellow Ribbon members helped her

Annette Kuyper, director of military outreach, says so many veterans feel alone and isolated and now Minnesota has Beyond the Yellow Ribbon networks to support them

At first, the program began to help National Guard members and was expanded to include all members of the military and veterans

Now when the warriors come home from the war, they are welcomed, not spat upon, in part because Yellow Ribbon communities have come together to help and to thank those who have sacrificed much for our country

November 5, 2012
Don Heinzman is a columnist and editorial writer for ECM Publishers, Inc
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