/*********************************************** * Chrome CSS Drop Down Menu- (c) Dynamic Drive DHTML code library (www.dynamicdrive.com) * This notice MUST stay intact for legal use * Visit Dynamic Drive at http://www.dynamicdrive.com/ for full source code ***********************************************/
History
Minnesota National Guard
Iraq War left mark on Minn. National Guard members, families

Minnesota National Guard ST PAUL, Minn -- The Iraq War, which started 10 years ago today, left a lasting imprint on the men and women who served and on their families

One Minnesotan who served in the war, 31-year-old guardsman 1st Lt Jesse Pope, arrived in Baghdad on Halloween in 2004

To calm his nerves, the St Paul native turned the music in his Humvee up full-blast as the convoy entered the city for the first time



"I'm 23-years old I'm wearing a bunch of body armor and driving into Baghdad Iraq and listening to Outkast 'Bombs Over Baghdad,' like I'm out for a joyride in my Pontiac Firebird with my buddy," Pope said "It was very surreal That was almost like the Superbowl of my deployment"

Pope's company was one of the first Minnesota National Guard units to go to Iraq in the early days of the conflict In fact, Minnesota's 34th Red Bull Infantry Division has been one of the most deployed units since the September 11, 2001 attacks

He was based near the Baghdad airport on a road that became notorious for insurgent attacks His feeling of invincibility was soon shattered when he climbed a wall to secure a surveillance camera

"I hear something whiz by me," he remembered

It was a sniper shot

"The fraction of a second between hearing that sound and then hearing the report from the rifle was confusion for me That is what it sounds like when somebody just misses hitting you in the face," he said

After that first attack, Pope made it through his almost two-year tour safely Others did not At least 113 people with Minnesota ties have died in connection with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

Despite coming home to a job, it still took months for Pope to adjust to civilian life Even now, he feels the war's effects

"When I walk down the street and I'm by myself, I look at what people are doing," Pope said "I feel like I'm kind of always surveying the scene a little bit more than what I used to do in my normal life"

TROUBLES AT HOME
Pope is one of thousands of Minnesotans living with recent memories of combat There are almost 48,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan in Minnesota The state Department of Veterans Affairs says that's around 13 percent of the state's total veteran population

Many of these men and women served overseas more than once

The guard's Maj Aaron Krenz said the separation of deployment was tough on Minnesota military families

"You're leaving your spouse, you're leaving your kids and a lot changes in a year's time," Krenz said "You're leaving your employer Just being gone and leaving your family to do everything that you were a part of"

But the reunion can be even more stressful than the separation

Many service members come home with physical and psychological injuries sustained in combat that can lead to mental health problems down the road Research also shows it's often difficult for veterans to find their place in the family again, as so many roles and relationships have shifted during their absence

"Many service members and their families struggled and unfortunately some of them either ended up in divorce, their homes were foreclosed on," Krenz said "Things got out of control a lot quicker than we all expected"

A NEW APPROACH IN MINNESOTA
And that need led to a reintegration initiative that's revolutionized how soldiers come home In 2005, the Minnesota National Guard launched a mandatory program they call Beyond the Yellow Ribbon

It's designed to connect veterans and their families with resources to stabilize health, relationships and finances The program begins even before soldiers leave US soil, to prepare them and their families for what's to come

In previous conflicts military veterans returned home to little, if any, support at all And while there is no hard data on the program, guard officials say Beyond the Yellow Ribbon has been successful Other states have expressed interest in launching similar programs

Minneapolis attorney and military veteran Brock Hunter said that while the Minnesota National Guard has made great strides, even more help is needed He said the demand for services to assist the rising number of soldiers coming back with undiagnosed combat trauma is growing

"We still, 40 years after Vietnam, have hundreds of thousands of Vietnam veterans across the country who are chronically incarcerated, homeless and addicted and I think we can do a lot better job this time around," Hunter said "I think we already are doing a lot better job this time around"

To help support today's returning veterans, Hunter said, the federal government will need to spend more money, something he anticipates could become more politicized as the war in Afghanistan also winds down and more service members return home

by Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
March 19, 2013
Article source
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2013/03/19/news/iraq-war-minnesota-national-guard



Articles archive

In The News archive

Media Advisory archive

Latest News

Minnesota Guardsmen learn survival skills, train with Norwegian counterparts

Posted: 2018-07-03  01:36 PM
NOREX 45 Over the course of 10 days, 100 Soldiers and Airmen from the Minnesota National Guard who traveled to Norway June 17-26, 2018, for the 45th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange learned valuable survival skills and shared their knowledge with members of the Norwegian Home Guard. This year's exchange was the second to take place during the summer months in the history of the longest-running military partnership between two nations.

"It was a great experience for both the Minnesota National Guard and the Norwegian Home Guard," said Capt. 'Kiwi' HorgA�ien, the senior Norwegian instructor. "A cultural exchange, a social exchange and military exchange all packed into one."

The 45th exchange got off to a late start, with flight delays causing the trip to be shortened from its normal length of two weeks. The delay meant that the Minnesota Guardsmen jumped right into training, heading out to the field after just a few hours of sleep.



133rd Airlift Wing Emphasizes Combat Readiness Training

Posted: 2018-06-29  10:48 AM
Alpena ALPENA, Michigan - Approximately 300 U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 133rd Airlift Wing participated in a readiness exercise at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, Alpena, Mich.

The exercise, tagged as Iron Ore, was designed test the Airmen abilities to set up operations at an unfamiliar location and receive in depth training on Ability-To-Survive and Operate (ATSO) principles while supporting airlift and aeromedical flight operations.

To ensure mission success and readiness, Airmen had to complete training at home station prior to leaving for Alpena. Some of this training included weapons qualification, gas mask fit testing, Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) familiarization, self-aid and buddy care and career field training.



Red Bulls Kickoff Division Warfighter

Posted: 2018-06-13  01:38 PM
DIV WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - "A Warfighter is an exercise that allows the Division to evaluate their ability to maneuver assets in a battle," said Master Sgt. Greg Weaver, the Operations Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge for the Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion. "It is designed to focus on particular areas and specific objectives to be evaluated or tested."

The Division has geared its' planning and training efforts in preparation for Warfighter since July 2017. Coordinating transportation for Soldiers and equipment was often on the mind of Maj. David Johansson, the logistics officer for the 34th ID. With the coordination of Johansson and his team, troops and equipment all converged on Camp Atterbury, enlisting the help of 89 railcars, 280 tractor-trailers, and nearly 50 buses for the movement.

"I like to say my job is to 'quiet the noise'". Johansson continued, "The noise being a real life logistical problem that could impede the exercise."



Minnesota-based aviation unit takes part in Warfighter Exercise

Posted: 2018-06-08  11:59 AM
34ECAB WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - More than 150 Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade are here participating in a multi-echelon training event, Warfighter Exercise 18-5, May 30 to June 15.

The exercise, which is part live and part virtual, is testing the St. Paul, Minnesota-based aviation unit's ability to conduct operations and mission command in a high-intensity, complex operating environment. Soldiers are being challenged to take decisive action as they focus on air-ground operations -- or synchronizing and integrating aviation operations into the scheme of maneuver planned and conducted by forces on the ground.

In this case, the units on the ground are being commanded by the Rosemount, Minnesota-based 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, which is also participating in the exercise.



Article archive
 
top