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National Guard Soldier observes Ramadan during Annual Training
Hugging, kissing and praying for each other are common sights on the morning of Eid ul-Fitr, the holiday that ends Ramadan's approximately 30 days of fasting for the Islamic religion The festive mood is in the air along with the smell of freshly cooked traditional food, such as the large amounts of rice, lamb and goat, said Army National Guard Sgt Alkali Yaffa, the administrative Non-Commissioned Officer of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division headquarters
Aug 8, marks the end of Ramadan this year For Yaffa these tender moments are the most memorable experiences of Eid ul-Fitr
For Yaffa, Ramadan is more than a time of fasting from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual relations; it's a spiritual time for him to reconnect with his religion To him, it's a time to reflect his blessing such as, food, shelter and a healthy family
"It not only makes me a better Soldier, but a better human being," said Yaffa "I've become a more modest man as I have come to realize the bigger picture"
Fasting from sunrise to sunset is no easy task Being an avid coffee drinker, Yaffa will experience a headache for three to four hours because he has not had his morning cup of joe
Charity is also an important element of Eid ul-Fitr It is a common practice to donate an average of ten dollars per family member to a worthy cause Yaffa donates to his mosque where his money goes toward out-reach and after school programs
Yaffa has taken the initiative to improve his personal wellness through his reflections and five daily prayers His unit commander and chaplain have reached out to him with modifications that have made celebrating Ramadan easier for him Prayer time has been made readily available as well as days of leave to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr
"I want to extend my sincere appreciation to my command for the support they have given me during Ramadan," said Yaffa "My brigade chaplain and unit commander have made accommodations since the beginning and even through a deployment to Iraq"
Other Soldiers from his unit often ask, "How do you do it Sgt Yaffa?" His response is, "It all depends on how much you believe in something, religious or not, if you believe in it you can do it"
Yaffa is a Soldier who has been able to thrive in becoming a living example of a resilient, dedicated Muslim, husband, father and Soldier with the support of a wonderful group of family, friends and fellow Minnesota National Guard Service members
Posted: 2017-04-26 02:09 PM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The Department of Defense announced that Camp Ripley was selected as the winner of the Secretary of Defense Environmental Award for Natural Resources Conservation, Large Installation.
The awards recognize individuals, teams and installations for their exceptional environmental achievements and innovative, cost-effective environmental practices.
"The winners' efforts strengthen the Department of Defense's position as a resourceful environmental steward, both at home and abroad, and demonstrate our continued commitment to fulfilling mission needs through advanced environmental practices and technologies," stated James A. MacStravic, performing the duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
Posted: 2017-04-26 10:57 AM COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. - Staff Sgt. Nicquie Neely has been working with victims of sexual assault for four years in the Minnesota National Guard and also volunteers as a victim advocate in the community. As a victim advocate, it's her job to believe and support victims through a difficult process that can often involve extensive medical care and legal proceedings.
"Ever since I joined the Guard and heard about the SHARP program and learned what a victim advocate was, I always wanted to be one," said Neely. "And then I learned that you had to be an E-6 to be in that position, so the minute I got promoted I asked my commander if I could go to the training."
Neely is a combat medic and the full-time training and administration NCO with Company C, 134th Brigade Support Battalion. In addition to military victim advocate training, Neely also attends regular training with the civilian organization she volunteers for - SOS Sexual Violence Services in Ramsey County.
Posted: 2017-04-24 10:43 AM Washington - Members of the Minnesota National Guard and the Air Force Reserve traveled to Washington D.C. with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (also known as the JCRC), to visit the Holocaust Museum, April 4, 2017, to honor the victims of the Holocaust. Also, traveling with this group were St. Paul and Minneapolis police officers along with students from various high schools around the state. For those in uniform that day, it was an opportunity to see, hear and experience the stories of victims and survivors of the Holocaust.
Each Service member who attended was asked to bring back a summary of their experience in the form of a presentation, professional discussion or briefing to their respective unit in order to help other Guard members better understand and remember that horrible event, to honor the courage of the victims and survivors, and to remain vigilant as members of the U.S. military.
"The honor and privilege of accompanying members of the Minnesota National Guard to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. met so many goals," said Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the JCRC. "I wanted to reinforce the importance of the commitment of the U.S. military to democracy. After all, it was the Allies that defeated Nazi Germany and ultimately put an end to the Holocaust."
Posted: 2017-04-19 02:15 PM CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - It was a challenging and rewarding two weeks for members attending the Army National Guard Funeral Honors Instructor Course, April 1-14, at Camp Ripley.
Soldiers of National Guard units from all over the United States took part in the course designed to educate team leaders in a variety of funeral honor detail tasks, traditions and responsibilities.
"It's a stressful course, but for our job, we have to be prepared to do our job under stress; and we all really benefitted from that," said Class Honor Grad, Sgt. Ryan Valline of the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry.