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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota National Guard female leaders speak about helping military families, working and raising children

Minnesota National Guard EAGAN, Minn- Two females representing the Minnesota National Guard and Minnesota Department of Military Affairs spoke to the Thomson Reuters Veterans Network and Working Moms Group, Nov 20, 2013 Col Johanna Clyborne, commander of the 347th Regional Support Group, and Annette Kuyper, Director of Military Outreach for the Minnesota Department of Military Affairs, spoke about being working mothers and Minnesota's ongoing efforts to support Soldiers and Airmen and their families through the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program

Kuyper, a mother of a Minnesota National Guardsman, found herself thrown into the role of family readiness group leader for her son's unit when he deployed in 2005 She provided support to families across Minnesota while she worked full-time at Target and worried constantly about her son's safety She then became involved in helping the Minnesota National Guard put together reintegration training for service members and their families returning from deployment

Those efforts grew into what is now known as the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program in Minnesota which not only provides reintegration support to service members and their families but also focuses on involving communities and businesses in supporting service members and military-connected families This year the program is celebrating five years of Yellow Ribbon Networks including more than 250 communities, counties and companies across the state

For Kuyper it comes down to a simple statement: "No veteran or military family should feel isolated or alone in any Minnesota community"

Thomson Reuters is one of those companies which have made commitments to supporting military members and their families These Yellow Ribbon companies in Minnesota have been making a difference in the workplace in reaching out to employees and recruiting, hiring and retaining veteran and military-connected employees

"We use Thomson Reuters and all our Yellow Ribbon companies as great examples of what communities and companies can do when they work together," said Kuyper

Col Johanna Clyborne recently took over as the commander of the Roseville-based 347th Regional Support Group, where she is the first female in the Minnesota National Guard to command a unit at that level The added responsibility of her new role, in addition to her full-time job as a partner at the law firm of Brekke, Clyborne and Ribich LLC and her other full-time job as a mother keep her very busy

"I don't know that I've got the balance entirely right yet," said Clyborne "Every day it's a struggle Every day I look at the calendar and I figure out am I going to be super mom today, super commander or super lawyer But I can't be all three at any given time"

Clyborne spoke about how she balances working full-time with her family life and how her role as a military commander is different from her role as a mom

"Sometimes you get that mom guilt The reality is that at the end of the night, [my daughter] knows I love her, she knows that I'm doing things to hopefully kick down doors and open opportunities for her," said Clyborne

Clyborne deployed to Iraq in 2008, leaving her husband at home to take care of their daughter Juggling work and being a mom from such a long distance helped her to realize that there would be times when she couldn't do it all

"I have learned that I have to ask for help," said Clyborne "That's a very difficult thing to do It took an adjustment and understanding that if I was truly going to balance things out, I was going to have to ask for help"

The Minnesota National Guard is working to support soldiers and families through various programs including Yellow Ribbon networks and to promote a diverse climate within the organization

December 2, 2013
by Sgt. 1st Class Blair Heusdens
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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