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Minnesota National Guard
Troops look beyond the yellow ribbons

For area Soldiers recently home from Iraq, returning to Minnesota marked the start of a new journey: reintegration into home and community life

In coming months, local troops will participate in a pilot program through the Minnesota Army National Guard titled "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon," a comprehensive effort to provide Soldiers with the tools and resources needed for successful reintegration into everyday life

This particular reintegration program is the first of its kind," said Cpt Aaron Krenz, one of the top officers coordinating reintegration sessions for Minnesota troops "No other state in the nation is doing what we're doing"

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon differs from other reintegration efforts in that it follows up with Soldiers at 30-day intervals after their return from service In other states, Krenz said, contact between National Guard officials and Soldiers may not occur until 90 days have passed

Troops from the 136th Infantry will meet in Moorhead Sept 29-30 for their first follow-up program The goal of this session is to connect Soldiers and their families with service providers through workshops and round robin stations

After 60 days, the National Guard will host another session to address anger management, substance abuse issues and other negative behaviors related to combat stress Members of the State Patrol will update Soldiers on laws that changed while they were away and remind them of existing laws that guide everyone's behavior

A lot of the Soldiers have been the law of the land [in Iraq]," Krenz said "We want to ensure that Soldiers know that they're still subject to the laws"

At 90 days, Soldiers will attend sessions without their families, where they will complete their Post Deployment Health Re-assessment, meet with counselors if necessary and turn in any remaining equipment When Soldiers return to normal weekend drill training shortly thereafter, they will continue to have access to resources through the Department of Veterans Affairs, Krenz said

Meanwhile, the Otter Tail County Veterans Service has already begun working with returning troops to connect Soldiers with veterans benefits According to Director Jourdan Sullivan, teams of county service officers from around the state traveled to Fort McCoy to help Soldiers fill out the paperwork needed to enter the Veterans Affairs health system Soldiers must fall under a certain gross income level -- $27,790 for a single veteran, $33,350 for a veteran with a spouse and progressively higher levels depending on the number of children -- or fall under an asset limit of $80,000 to qualify for system coverage

It is important to register Soldiers in the system as soon as possible, Sullivan said, to ensure coverage for the rest of their lives

Once we have them in the VA system," Sullivan said, "they'll be grandfathered into the system"

The Veterans Service also helps Soldiers receive compensation for service-connected disabilities Sullivan said he expects to see many cases of bilateral hearing loss and tinnitus -- ringing in the ears -- due to the high number of improvised explosive devices Soldiers encountered in Iraq A potential hearing problem should receive attention early to ensure attention in the future

It may not be very extreme now but in 40 years it will be exacerbated by age and more noise," Sullivan said, adding that he also expects to see back and knee injuries among returning Soldiers

"These guys are bound to have some musco-skeletal problems from the weight they've been humping around out there in the desert," he said

Beyond health care, the Veterans Service connects returning Soldiers with pension and educational benefits Securing these benefits can be a long, complicated and controversial process, but Otter Tail County staff are committed to helping veterans as much as they can

"We feel very strongly that veterans have earned the benefits that the government has provided for them," Sullivan said

With 2,680 veterans, Otter Tail County is the eighth largest county in the state in terms of the number of veterans, Sullivan said The county's Veterans Service office -- in which six people work full-time on benefits work -- has an annual budget of $360,000 It distributed about $20 million in veterans benefits last year

By Lauren Radomski | The Daily Journal

Published Wednesday, August 8, 2007

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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.

Forging a path to career success

Posted: 2018-03-16  08:45 AM
Col. Angela Steward-Randle ST. PAUL, Minn. - Col. Angela Steward-Randle grew up in a military family - her father served in the Army on active duty - but it was a chance encounter with a friend at college that led her to want to make the military a career.

"My story is no different than many others," Steward-Randle, the Director of Human Resources, Manpower and Personnel for the Minnesota National Guard said. "I was in college and looking for financial resources to help pay for it."

Her college friend suggested they attend a summer training with the Reserve Officer Training Corps that had no obligation and could earn them some money. The friend never ended up going, but Steward-Randle did. After earning recognition as the top honor graduate and receiving an offer of a scholarship, she was hooked.

Minnesota Guardsman Receives Award for Combating Drugs in his Community

Posted: 2018-03-09  03:13 PM
Counterdrug WOODBURY, Minn. - Staff Sgt. Benjamin Kroll, an analyst with the Minnesota National Guard's Counterdrug Task Force who is assigned to work with the Hennepin County Sherriff's Office was recognized for his achievements as the Analyst of the Year during the 2018 Minnesota Association of Crime and Intelligence Analysts Training Symposium in Woodbury, Minnesota, March 7, 2018.

Through a partnership with Minnesota law enforcement agencies throughout the state, the Minnesota National Guard Counterdrug Task Force (MNCDTF) supports the anti-drug initiatives to counter all primary drug threats and vulnerabilities through the effective application of available assets, said Maj. Jon Dotterer, Counterdrug Coordinator for the State of Minnesota. The goal for the program is to support federal, state, tribal, and local agencies in the detection, disruption, interdiction, and curtailment of illicit drugs.

Kroll is one of sixteen service members on the Counterdrug Task Force that provides this force-multiplying service to our communities against illicit drug-use. With the information that law enforcement provide through their patrols and daily operations, Kroll and his colleagues across the state assist by putting together a figurative picture with all of the gathered information which aids in identifying how to move forward with legal action to deter or prevent the sale or use of illegal narcotic drugs.

Women Opened Doors in Minnesota National Guard

Posted: 2018-03-08  09:05 AM
Minnesota National Guard ST. PAUL, Minn. - "The battlefront is no place for women to be," said Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Kurtzweg, 125th Field Artillery, in an article published in 1976. "There are certain jobs girls say they can do, but they just can't do ... the battlefront is no place for women to be. Other countries in the world use women in combat, but the U.S. has not come around to that way of thinking." Kathy Berg, a New Ulm reporter summarized at the time. "So women in the New Ulm unit take care of personnel files and pay records and leave the fighting to the men."

The Minnesota National Guard has "come around to that way of thinking" since those early days of gender integration. In the last 44 years women have made momentous strides toward inclusion and acceptance. Their accomplishments are testimony to their fortitude and the progressive development of the Minnesota National Guard.

When an accomplished female Soldier is credited with breaking barriers she will often pass that honor to the women that preceded her. Brig. Gen. Johanna Clyborne is such a leader. She acknowledges that she is one of the first females in the Minnesota National Guard who has held key leadership roles, however she sees it differently. "I feel responsible for all women in uniform," said Clyborne. "Women before me opened the door, now I've cleared the room. It's up to the women behind me to hold the room."

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