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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota Dedicates Tribute to Military Families on the State Capitol Grounds

Minnesota Military Family Tribute ST PAUL, Minn - Honoring families of military members and veterans, the state of Minnesota dedicated the Minnesota Military Family Tribute, a first-of-its-kind complex, on the State Capitol grounds, June 12, 2015

Minnesota has led the charge in the last decade for military and family support with the creation of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, a comprehensive program that creates awareness for the purpose of connecting Service members and their families with community support, training, services and resources

More importantly than the support of the general public and employers is the support of the Service members' family Many Service members attribute the support from their significant other, parents, siblings and friends as a direct result of their success in the military

"The support I receive as a Service member is absolutely heartwarming," said Capt Winnie Tan, Public Affairs Officer for the 133rd Airlift Wing "The dedication tribute ceremony today reminds me that I couldn't do what I do without the support of my family during my training and for deployments and being a part of this event was so very meaningful"

The Minnesota Military Family Tribute offers three additions to the pre-existing array of memorials and statues on the Capitol grounds The 'thank you military and veteran family walkway,' is a path arc lined by trees which shade the benches in the warmer weather Eighty-seven story stones, one to represent each of the state's 87 counties and the Service members who live within each, share quotes from letters sent from Service members and their families spanning several conflicts Finally, the Gold Star Table, recognizes the sacrifice of the families who have lost loved ones in war The memorial features a sculpted table representing a way families can share a dinner, stories and laughter together It is meant to be a place of reflection, gathering and a place to create memories

Distinguished visitors for the event included Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, United States Senator Amy Klobuchar, the President and Chair of the Minnesota Military Family Tribute, Teri and Bill Popp, the Commissioner of Minnesota Veterans Affairs Larry Shellito, Minnesota Adjutant General Richard Nash, US House of Representatives Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District Representative Erik Paulsen and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty

Gen Joe Votel , Commanding General of US Special Operations Command , and his wife, Michelle, both Minnesota natives, also attended the event Votel and his wife are strong advocates of taking care of military families for all the support they render to their Service member He addressed the crowd standing side-by-side with his spouse as he stressed the importance of the support of his family during his military career and how her support contributed to his success

According to Votel, families aren't only an integral part of the success of the military, but also a vital part of the readiness of the Service member today Their support and care is a responsibility of military leadership Focusing on resilience and self-reliance, information and educational support when needed, and providing a clear and present social outlet are three main things he believes we should be providing military families

"I am so proud of being a part of the military families and showing all families the 'why' of they do what they do," said Michelle Votel

That 'why' is easy to describe for most people who serve Regardless of what conflict a military member served in, the support of their family, especially during deployments, is as important as the issued boots they wear on their feet

"If there is a good aspect of 14 years of war, it is that our country has fallen back in love with its military," said General Votel "As a person who wears the uniform, I can tell you that we greatly, greatly appreciate that I have an opportunity to visit active duty, reserve and Guard often and we are indeed a very lucky country to have the Service members who serve today and to have the units' families that stand behind them"

For more information on the Minnesota Military Family Tribute visit: wwwMinnesotaFamilyTributeorg

June 15, 2015
by Tech Sgt Lynette Olivares
133rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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