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Minnesota National Guard
Easing the Transition: Allowing Guard to Reintegrate Side-by-side

Submitted by Melissa Sullivan on August 2, 2007 - 7:45am
By Sen Norm Coleman

As another beautiful Minnesota summer continues toward the fall, it is our great pleasure to welcome home more than 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard's First Brigade Combat Team who have recently returned home from extended service abroad
It's hard to believe that service in the National Guard used to be described as "one weekend a month, two weeks a year," especially as we see these brave men and women return from the longest deployment of any unit in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom These citizen-Soldiers are proof of the elevated commitment of the National Guard to the defense of our nation, a commitment that deserves the highest degree of recognition by the government it serves

More than "weekend warriors"
Unfortunately, the programs and policies of the Department of Defense still treat our Guard troops like "weekend warriors" rather than seasoned war fighters who spent nearly two years away from home on their latest deployment Though our troops have deployed and served in a manner consistent with the finest traditions of the United States armed forces, our federal initiatives have not provided a level of support that matches their courageous spirit

One of the greatest policy mistakes we have encountered is the abrupt transition from military to civilian life After their active duty orders are complete, these citizen-Soldiers are thrust back into their civilian lives without any plan or program to assist them in their readjustment In fact, under current Department of Defense policy, we don't even allow Guard units to organize mandatory group events to go through the reintegration process together during the first critical months of their return

"Hands-off" policy has holes
This 60-day hands-off policy is well intended Our Guardsmen and women should not be forced to drill when they should be spending time with their families after their return home However, the unintended consequences of this policy leave them isolated from their unit and their comrades - people they've spent every day with for well over a year - and also denies them valuable reintegration services

During a forum this spring at the University of Minnesota, Col Neal Loidolt, who has served 22 years in the National Guard, noted that many National Guard Soldiers and their families face unique challenges when loved ones return from active duty The problem, Loidolt said, is that the "hands-off" approach to returning National Guard troops forces families and Soldiers to bear the full brunt of the major adjustments that come with their return to civilian life I have heard this same concern time and again during my many meetings with our troops and their families across the state It's a very real concern and one that we need to address

Fortunately, the Minnesota National Guard has innovated a strategy to deal with this emerging challenge The Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program is one of only a handful of programs in the entire country that focuses on the reintegration of returning National Guard troops It provides support for Soldiers and their families during each of the four phases of their deployment cycle including pre-deployment, deployment, demobilization, and post-deployment

Guard troops participate in events and activities including family and marriage counseling, financial planning and education, small business planning, community outreach and health-care and veterans benefits education

As it stands, however, the Minnesota National Guard cannot operate its program as effectively as possible because of the antiquated 60-day policy This rule has hamstrung the Guard's ability to immediately reach out to troops who may need help the most

For these reasons, I have visited with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates personally to urge him to rescind the Defense Department's 60-day hands-off policy for National Guard and Reserve troops returning home from combat This will allow them to have access to reintegration services immediately Many of Minnesota's other elected leaders have also contacted the Pentagon with this request

As we welcome thousands of Minnesotans back into our communities this summer, it is crucial that all of us do what we can to make their reintegration process as smooth as possible I will continue working with my colleagues to ensure that all of our troops are able to meet the challenge of readjusting to civilian life in the best way possible It's the very least we can do for those who have given us all so much

Article source: http://www.hutchinsonleader.com/node/3651



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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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