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Minnesota National Guard
Veteran's live beyond the yellow ribbon

With many US Armed Forces veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, Scott County Veterans Service is working hard to help troops make the transition back to civilian life

In an effort to connect with returning Soldiers, their families and all members of the community, a presentation Wednesday, Feb 21, will focus on issues surrounding the reintegration of Soldiers into their hometowns

Maj John Morris, the deputy state chaplain of the Minnesota National Guard, developed the idea for the community forum "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" as a way to connect with all facets of the community "Just about everybody in the county is going to be affected in some way by these young people coming back," said Todd Kubinski, Scott County veterans service director

Anyone can attend the presentation, which will be beneficial for local government officials and staff: faith-based organizations, community groups, fraternal organizations, service providers, hospitals, clinics, police officers, firefighters and public health providers

Among the speakers will be two veterans who have recently returned from service overseas

The forum also will feature speakers from the state Department of Veterans Affairs and county Human Services Department There will be time for a question-and-answer session

"We want to give the business leaders and community leaders and family members an idea of some of the things they can expect to see and make them aware of whatever supportive services they need," Kubinski said

Topics will include addressing the needs of returning combat veterans and their families; raising awareness of the reintegration process commonly experienced by returning veterans; warning signs of post-traumatic stress disorder; and adjusting to civilian life after being a combat Soldier

Kubinski estimated that in the near future, about 50 to 75 veterans will be returning to Scott County from overseas

With those numbers and the Jan 16 death by suicide of an Iraq war veteran from Prior Lake on people's minds, the community meeting was planned

Combat veterans can encounter a range of challenges when reintegrating into civilian life, according to Kubinski

Some of those relate post-combat traumatic stress, such as chemical dependency or other mental health issues Kubinski says a lot of combat veterans are unaware they are eligible for two years of free medical care for those conditions related to their military service

These issues require a more involved response, but other challenges can be just as important

Reintegration services can help veterans adapt their military experience in a résumé to obtain a civilian job Resources can connect veterans to the state's Dislocated Workers Program or one of the Minnesota workforce centers

Other programs address the needs of families or couples as their relationships change and grow One of the options the county's veterans service provides is home visits if people aren't comfortable coming to the county office

There are dozens of other services, from child care to tax preparation assistance, that people can learn about at the community meeting

"I will brag up and down about the Minnesota National Guard's reintegration program," Kubinski said "It is a model that every state should follow"

In Brief

A community presentation regarding the reintegration of veterans into the community will be 7 to 9 pm Wednesday, Feb 21, at the Savage American Legion Hall, 12375 Princeton Ave S For more information, call the Scott County Veterans Service Office at (952) 496-8176

Veterans or their family members can have a wide range of reintegration questions answered at the Web site Military One Source at wwwmilitaryonesourcecom or call 1-800-342-9647

By Tad Johnson, Thisweek Newspapers

Source: www.thisweek-online.com

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