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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota Guard program getting national attention

WASHINGTON - A program the Minnesota National Guard has started to help Soldiers adjust to normal life after they return from war would become a national model under an effort announced Friday by Rep John Kline, R-Minn

Kline says the "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" program, which received bipartisan support and about $3 million last fall, is getting attention for its potential use by National Guard units around the country Officials from 19 states are in Minnesota this weekend to learn more about the program

"I think it's well-known from coast to coast that if we have Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in extended deployments that they are under some pretty, pretty heavy stresses," Kline said Friday "And we need to do something about that reintegration"

His legislation, which he plans to introduce next week, would nationalize Minnesota's program, providing the funding and structure for the National Guard in all states Kline said he hasn't seen any resistance from members of Congress and that he already has support from the National Guard Bureau, a national organization

The two-year-old program has served some 2,000 Guard Soldiers and family members, providing workshops on such topics as rebuilding and maintaining relationships, dealing with stress, anger management and substance abuse

Maj. Gen. Larry Shellito, Minnesota's adjutant general, who took the lead in developing the program, said the program is intended also to help guard members return to school so the dropout rate is reduced, get access to local health providers and receive counseling for any relationship issues

It's unclear how much the program would cost nationally, but the money Kline is seeking would go toward administration costs and drill pay, he said "In my judgment, it's a small price to pay for this tremendous service that we need to provide," Kline, a retired Marine and Vietnam veteran, said

The Minnesota National Guard has had to delve into its own coffers to provide the reintegration training for Soldiers and their families, said Col Kevin Gerdes, who oversees the program

"The Army doesn't fund this kind of training or program in the reserve component," he said Active-duty members have access to the services at their home bases

There's another apparent need for federal legislation Minnesota needed a waiver to offer the program because the Department of Defense requires National Guard members to be left alone for 90 days after demobilization, Kline said He believes members need resources earlier to help them return to normal life

At 30 days and 60 days after demobilization, Soldiers and their families meet for workshops, Gerdes said There's a medical focus at 90 days, which only the Guard members attend

"The basis for this program is for us to look our Soldiers in the eye at the 30-day mark, the 60-day mark and 90-day mark and try to find out either through them or their family support structure if they are having issues, so we can identify it early, educate them and help them obtain follow-(up) care if needed," he said

Capt Justin Rodgers of Plymouth, who was deployed for 18 months and stationed in Baghdad, said the program helped him in his relationship with his wife

"We had been apart longer than we had been together," he said

His wife gave birth to their son while he was overseas, and she became the head of the household -- a role he said he was used to playing He said the workshop helped them be sensitive to each other's roles at home

Brady Averill is a correspondent in the Star Tribune Washington Bureau: 202-383-0015

By Brady Averill, Star Tribune

Article source: http://www.startribune.com/587/story/1134471.html



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Minnesota National Guard leaders visit traveling tribute in Austin

Posted: 2018-05-22  10:16 AM
Traveling Wall AUSTIN, Minn. - A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was on display May 16-20, in Austin and leaders of the 347th Regional Support Group took the opportunity to visit during the event's closing ceremony.

The display, dubbed the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, was hosted by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Austin and featured a near-replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C.

"It was an honor to be part of this humbling and moving tribute to our Vietnam veterans," said Col. Stephen Schemenauer. "The traveling Vietnam Wall is a powerful display, and this event provided an opportunity to meet, and thank, service members from WWII to present-day conflicts. Regardless of their branch of service, or the era or conflict in which they served, we all share a common bond."



Minnesota Aviators lead multi-state National Guard partnership for NTC rotation

Posted: 2018-05-21  03:51 PM
2-147 NTC FORT IRWIN, Calif. - The Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 147th Assault Helicopter Battalion is working together with aviation units from four different states to provide support to the Tennessee-based 278th Armored Calvary Regiment during a rotation at National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California.

Making up Task Force Ragnar is Utah-based B Company, 1st Battalion, 211th Assault Reconnaissance Battalion; Nevada-based B Company, 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion; Michigan-based C Company, 3-238th GSAB; and Minnesota-based A, D, E and Headquarters Companies, 2-147th AHB and F Company, 1-189th GSAB.

"Early coordination with the units across four states combined with exceptional unit leadership and motivated Soldiers helped us to quickly build the task force when we closed on Fort Irwin," said Lt. Col. Kevin O'Brien, Task Force Commander. "I was thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and teamwork of task force Soldiers. This was an outstanding training opportunity that challenged every Soldier to grow as individuals and units daily."



Deployed Minnesota Guardsman honors grandfather, Hmong heritage

Posted: 2018-05-17  09:57 AM
Brandon Xiong CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - "My heritage is Hmong," said 21 year-old Minnesota National Guard Spec. Brandon Xiong from his desk at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. "A low-key culture that originated from southern Asia. Hmong is not a place, but it is a people."

Xiong, the eldest grandson of the late Col. Song Leng Xiong, is deployed in Kuwait as an information technician for Area Support Group - Kuwait.

"We were not nomadic, but have been in many different conflicts," said Xiong. "Many places I go, I am questioned about my nationality and when answered, end up being even more confused. There is a movie called, "Gran Torino", where Clint Eastwood is introduced to the Hmong culture and I think it portrays the Hmong people not so terribly."



Month of the Military Child recognizes contributions of military kids

Posted: 2018-04-07  01:54 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The month of April is designated as the Month of the Military Child to recognize the contributions and sacrifices military children make so their family members can serve. An estimated 15,000 children in Minnesota have been affected by the deployment of a parent.

"Military children bear a lot while their family members serve," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "It is up to us to support these resilient kids and help to lessen their burden."

An event to honor military kids in Minnesota will take place April 13, 2018, at the Mall of America rotunda from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Activities will include appearances by the Teddy Bear Band and meet and greets with Nickelodeon characters.



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