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Minnesota National Guard
Veteran Reintegration Focus of Central Minnesota Forum

Minnesota National Guard ST CLOUD, Minn- US Army (Ret) Col David Sutherland made an appearance in Central Minnesota Mar 13 to discuss and explore innovative ways and means to deliver services to military veterans and their families 

A decorated veteran of two wars, Sutherland, the director of the Staff Sgt Donnie Dixon Center in Washington DC, had this to say “While public-private partnerships can be powerful private, civic, and community partnerships can often be accomplished quicker and be more effective”

Sutherland gave an impassioned plea for a call to action at the conclusion of his hour-long presentation  He urged the audience of over 100 people not to repeat the mistakes from the Vietnam era by shunning and ignoring returning vets  He said, “The number one cure for a vet who is feeling disconnected when returning from combat is integration into the community” 

The director added, “It is about abilities and not disabilities” He stressed that too often people focus on what may be wrong with a veteran instead of focusing on what unique skills and attributes she/he may add to an employment setting, workforce or community 

Sutherland’s presentation was sponsored in part by Goodwill-Easter Seals – Minnesota and the Newman’s Own Foundation  According to conference literature the overarching goal of the program is to mobilize communities nationwide by mapping, planning, assessing and evaluating the current state of veterans and military family services or lack thereof  The end-state of the effort is to increase services and access to education, employment and healthcare for veterans and their families 

The Central Minnesota area has been involved in reintegration efforts since 2007  Six years ago the Warrior to Citizen group was formed after a series of public forums spearheaded by community and civic leaders who wanted to do more for returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans  Three years later, Central Minnesota became the first Beyond the Yellow Ribbon region in the State of Minnesota tying together the cities of Cold Spring, Richmond, Rockville, Sartell, St Augusta, St Cloud, St Joseph, Sauk Rapids and Waite Park in outreach efforts to all veterans and their families 

By  Maj John Donovan
Camp Ripley Public Affairs Office
March 13, 2013

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