| MPR News Primer: Minnesota National Guard at war
April 16, 2012 St Paul, Minn — Nearly 3,000 Minnesota National Guard soldiers return home this month after serving a year in Afghanistan and Kuwait After ten years of regular deployments, Minnesota Guard troops will largely be home by May What's happened to Minnesota's citizen-soldier force in the decade? What happens next?
Minnesota National Guard - the basics
The Guard is a force of citizen-soldiers the governor can mobilize in peacetime to help during floods and other disasters The federal government calls on the Guard in war time to fight and support military operations overseas Minnesota's force traces its origins to the Pioneer Guard militia formed in 1856, before statehood It's served in every major American conflict since then
More than 25,000 Minnesota guardsmen have been deployed around the globe during the War on Terror that began with the terrorists attacks of Sept 11, 2001
There are nearly 14,000 in the state Guard currently, including 11,000 soldiers and 2,000 airmen They typically train a weekend per month and a two-week stretch during the year For their service, they earn pay and benefits that vary with rank and duty status An active duty specialist/corporal in the National Guard earns between $1,915 and $2,326 a month
What did Minnesota's Guard do overseas?
Minnesota Guard units served around the world the past 10 years, but their largest roles came in Iraq and Afghanistan where guardsmen have fought in combat and provided combat support
The Minnesota National Guard's 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division -- the Red Bulls -- holds the record for the longest serving unit in Operation Iraqi Freedom
Seventeen Minnesota guardsmen have died in a combat zone since the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks All but one died in Iraq, where 79 earned Purple Heart medals from combat injuries through 2011
What happens when guardsmen return?
When they return, Minnesota guardsmen go through a basic routine:
"As our Minnesota National Guard soldiers arrive at the demobilization sites, they will undergo medical and dental examinations, attend briefings on federal and state benefits, conduct equipment turn-in and complete administrative documentation," Army Maj Gerald D Halloran said in early April
"Once they complete these tasks, we'll send them home to Minnesota on chartered flights to Minneapolis
The final travel includes a bus ride to their respective armories"
Beyond the bus ride, though, some guardsmen face plenty of physical and emotional challenges as they return
MPR News reporter Tom Robertson wrote two years ago about the challenge of some Minnesota guardsmen returning home from war, highlighting the struggles of Greg Roberts, a former Minnesota National Guard staff sergeant trying to reclaim his civilian life
"It's something I did not anticipatecoming home and having it be a more difficult experience than actually being deployed," Roberts said "I was pretty much emotionally dead and I still deal with that now"
Mental health problems are a constant worry as soldiers return from combat operations
"The Minnesota National Guard began tracking suicide data in 2007 Since then, 24 citizen soldiers have taken their own lives That's the most of any state," writes MPR News reporter Tim Pugmire
Guard officials note that while concerning, two-thirds of the soldiers who committed suicide had never deployed and so their suicides are not the result of post-traumatic stress disorder
Only two of the 24 suicides occurred among active duty soldiers, Maj Gen Richard Nash, adjutant general of Minnesota, told lawmakers in December
Nash also told lawmakers that 34 soldiers sought help in a program for those who may be at risk of suicide
What kind of job market awaits Minnesota service people as they return?
Not great While the situation is better now than in the depths of the reception, it's still a challenge for military members to find work
"The Guard says about 19 percent of its 2,700 members will face unemployment when they get back from Kuwait in May," MPR News reporter Elizabeth Baier writes Unemployment rates for Minnesota veterans are more than three times the state's overall unemployment rate of 57 percent, she adds
Part of the challenge is to convince employers that guardsmen can transition easily from military service back into civilian life
It's a stigma that can be difficult for soldiers to overcome
However, there are increasing efforts to help veterans return to the workplace, including new employer tax incentives
Colleges and universities are also doing a lot to accommodate a crush of veterans seeking degrees after their service The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system had 10,644 veterans and service members enrolled in 2011, up 57 percent from 2008 Minneapolis Community and Technical College saw its enrollment of service members nearly double between 2008 and 2010
What happens to the Guard when deployments end?
"Now the fighting is over so we're going back into that train mode, which is the life of an army unit," the Red Bulls' Col Eric Kerska told MPR News in January
"We'll just continue to train, continue to manage the bases and the brigade will be much better trained by the time we get home"
Substance abuse summit works to support the National Guard
Posted: 2016-09-28 09:36 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Service members from across the Minnesota National Guard attended a summit Monday and Tuesday at Camp Ripley to discuss the methods of distribution for the organization's alcohol policy.
In its inaugural year, the Army Substance Abuse Prevention Summit, hosted by the Minnesota National Guard Substance Abuse Prevention Program, built a cooperative venue with several community partners in an effort to educate, inform and provide tools for leaders.
"We have been working for a while on developing a method to bring everyone to the table," said Capt. Troy Davidson of the Substance Abuse Prevention Program. "The intent is to collaborate with our senior leaders and other agencies provide resources and receive feedback in order to best serve the members of our organization."
Norex 2016 Magazine.pdf
Posted: 2016-09-14 11:26 AM
Minnesota National Guard conducts react to contact drills with Montenegro Armed Forces
Posted: 2016-09-14 10:13 AM
U.S. and Montenegrin Soldiers tested their ability to perform battle drills that included squad attacks, react to contact, break contact, and react to ambush while supporting Immediate Response 16 at the Croatian Armed Forces training area of Slunj, Croatia.
"Training like IR16 gets the younger Soldiers the experience in a little more than just what we do at home by going to a different country, seeing a different culture, meeting different people, establishing relationships that you would never get if you go overseas," said Sgt. George Langstaff, a squad leader assigned to the Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry.
The exercise and simulations are built upon a decisive action-based scenario and are designed to enhance regional stability, strengthen allied and partner nation capacity, and improve interoperability among partner nations.
University of Minnesota, Minnesota National Guard partner for crisis simulation exercise
Posted: 2016-09-13 04:28 PM
CANNON FALLS, Minn. - The Minnesota National Guard partnered with the University of Minnesota and other humanitarian organizations in a collaborative program to train students and prospective humanitarian aid workers during a three-day Humanitarian Crisis Simulation exercise at the Phillippo Scout Reservation in Cannon Falls, Sept. 9-11, 2016.
"A goal is to help students gain an appreciation of humanitarian work by putting them in an environment typical of humanitarian crises," said Dr. Eric James, co-instructor for the course. "We put the students into complex scenarios so they can apply the knowledge and skills learned from the course. They get to experience first-hand the stress of making a decision under pressure while providing aid to refugees in an unfamiliar country."
The Minnesota National Guard has participated in the exercise for the past four years, strengthening interagency relationships with local and international humanitarian organizations.