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Minnesota National Guard
Kline to push for taking Minnesota Guard program national

MINNEAPOLIS- A Minnesota program that helps National Guard members reintegrate into American life after they return home from war would go national under legislation US Rep John Kline plans to introduce early next week

Officials from about 19 states visited Minnesota on Friday to learn about its "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" program, said Maj. Gen. Larry Shellito, Minnesota's adjutant general It has already served 2,000 Minnesota Guard members, plus their families, in 115 communities, and is gearing up for over 3,000 members due to return home this summer

Kline, a retired Marine and Vietnam veteran, said service members who return from Iraq and Afghanistan are under "some pretty heavy stresses" Marriages and other family relationships come under strain, and some even commit suicide, he said

"We need to do something about that reintegration It's pretty tough when you come home after having been gone for a year or more," Kline said in a conference call with reporters Friday

"Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" helps returning Guard members get the help they need to return to normal life as quickly as possible, assisting them with family issues, medical issues and help with going back to school

Active duty service members get those services at their home bases stateside, but reservists scatter when they return home, said Kline, R-Minn

Kline said federal legislation is needed because Minnesota had to get waivers from Defense Department policies that require the Guard to leave members alone for 90 days after they return home He said it's important to be able to bring veterans in at 30 and 60 days as well to make sure they're getting the help they need

Former Sen Mark Dayton, a Democrat, was able to secure $3 million in stopgap funding just for Minnesota last year, Shellito said, but he and Kline said more will needed to keep it going here and expand the program coast to coast

Kline said it's still being determined how much it would cost, but he's rushing to try to get the program included in an upcoming defense authorization bill

"It is a small price to pay for this tremendous service that we need to provide," he said

By STEVE KARNOWSKI Associated Press Writer

Article source: http://www.twincities.com/searchresults/ci_5714632#recent_comm

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