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Minnesota National Guard
682nd Soldiers, families enjoy picnic prior to deployment

Family picnic WILMAR, Minn - Deploying Soldiers from the 682nd Engineer Battalion enjoyed a picnic with loved ones at Robbins Island Park in Willmar, Minn, September 11, 2015

The picnic was sponsored by "Serving Our Troops" and coincided with the unit's final drill weekend before deploying to Kuwait Families of the Soldiers were able to socialize and build a support system to take on the challenges that come with a deployment

That weekend, Soldiers and their families also took part in the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon's Family Prep Academy, a nationally recognized one-day program geared to improve the quality of life for everyone affected by a deployment

"It will help not only spouses, but also parents, siblings and children understand and be able to cope with the deployment of their loved one," said Lt. Col. Keith Ferdon, commander of the 682nd Engineer Battalion

The Family Prep Academy links participants with subject matter experts, previously-deployed Service members and representatives from military, government and civilian agencies Those interactions ensure that Soldiers and their loved ones are aware of the resources available to them during a deployment

Ferdon noted that the academy is a useful tool regardless of the Soldier's experience with deployments

"Whether this is the Soldier's first or fourth deployment, I believe we all learned good information," said Ferdon

The nearly 160 Soldiers deploying with 682nd Engineer Battalion began training at Camp Ripley, Minn, last May The unit will depart Minnesota for additional training in October in preparation for a one-year mobilization to Kuwait in support of Operation Spartan Shield

The unit's mission will be to direct and oversee the mission command for vertical and horizontal construction companies and missions within the US Central Command

The Soldiers of the 682nd represent 99 communities, and expect to return home next summer

September 11, 2015
by Sgt Bob Brown
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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