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Minnesota National Guard
Holiday gatherings strengthen military family togetherness

Minnesota National Guard CAMP RIPLEY, Minn- During the month of December many military organizations take part in a unit party or gathering to celebrate the holiday season and to share in each other's company

"These events bring everyone together and allow us to have fun as a family," said Maj John Donovan, Camp Ripley Training Support Unit Commander

For units of the Minnesota National Guard the annual holiday party is a time to reflect on what the holidays represent for everyone It is also a time to remember those no longer in our formations, and to celebrate the accomplishments that took place during the training year

"We always think about our fellow Service members who are deployed and can't be with their families during the holidays," said Spc Jeff Jensen, an engineer with the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion

For veteran Service members, the opportunity of spending time with family and loved ones is cherished as the veteran reflects on holidays spent away

"The military life can be challenging for new spouses Bringing everyone together allows the family to bond with the unit," said Sgt. 1st Class Troy Smith, Readiness NCO with 1st Squadron, 94th Cavalry

Attendance for military unit events is often mandatory for the Service member but everyone is encouraged to bring their family For young Soldiers, it is often their first experience with social military activities and an opportunity to interact with their unit members in a relaxed environment

Units training on Camp Ripley celebrated their holiday parties in one of the many locations on post Other units conducted their events within their own communities, extending out to local restaurants and other venues The 34th Combat Aviation Brigade held its annual ball at the St Cloud Rivers Edge Convention Center

"For me personally, it was important to meet the families and introduce them to our family readiness group," said Capt Amber M Manke, Commander, Headquarters Support Company, 34th Infantry Division

"With the preparation for the deployment coming up, answering questions and putting everyone's mind at ease made for a wonderful evening for everyone," added Manke

December 10, 2014
by Staff Sgt Anthony Housey
Camp Ripley Public Affairs

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