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Minnesota National Guard
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"
Article source
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2012/04/13/mpr-news-primer-national-guard



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Minnesota National Guard to highlight diversity and leadership development at Women's Leadership Forum

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The forum is part of an overall effort to promote an inclusive culture, diversify the organization, grow strong leaders and provide professional leadership development for both women and men. The topics will focus on emotional intelligence, leadership, high performing teams and creating a championship culture.



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Posted: 2017-09-11  02:20 PM
133 AW FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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ST. PAUL, Minn.- This past weekend the Minnesota Air National Guard sent 41 Airmen to support response efforts for Hurricane Irma. Six Soldiers from the Minnesota Army National Guard also departed this morning to support relief efforts.

"I thank Major General Nash for his leadership, and the brave Minnesota National Guard soldiers who will provide assistance in Hurricane Irma response and relief efforts," said Governor Dayton. "I encourage all Minnesotans who are able to contribute to qualified relief efforts. Minnesota stands ready to assist those affected by Hurricane Irma in any way we are able."

The 41 Airmen come from the 133rd Airlift Wing based in St. Paul and have a variety of skillsets. Fourteen of the Airmen are with the unit's Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and specially trained in emergency medical evacuations. They are currently on standby at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois where they will support potential missions in the Caribbean or Southern United States. The remaining personnel comprised of Airlift Control Flight, Logistics Readiness and Security Forces, arrived today at St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands where they will assist in recovery operations. The Airmen can support airports with skills and equipment to re-establish operations after disasters, secure aircraft and load and unload equipment.



Minnesota National Guard to send aviation assets to support Hurricane Harvey

Posted: 2017-09-01  10:42 AM
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September 1, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn.- Governor Dayton has approved 11 soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Combat Aviation Brigade to support response efforts for Hurricane Harvey. The soldiers will depart today from St. Cloud via CH-47 chinook helicopters to conduct aviation operations in Texas.

"I am glad that Minnesota will be able to assist the victims of the terrible tragedy in Texas, with 11 Minnesota National Guard soldiers accompanying two Chinook helicopters to join in relief efforts," said Governor Dayton. "I thank Major General Nash for his leadership, and the brave Minnesota soldiers, who will travel to Texas to provide this critical relief. I encourage all Minnesotans, who are able, to donate to the qualified relief efforts. Minnesota stands ready to assist in any way we can."

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'Highly Effective:' 148th Fighter Wing Excels

Posted: 2017-08-24  07:36 AM
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The results were impressive.

From Thursday, Aug. 3rd to Monday, Aug. 7th, during the course of the 148FW's August Drill Weekend, nearly 50 inspectors flew up to northern Minnesota to take a closer look at the 148FW during a Unit Effectiveness Inspection (UEI).

Their white IG badges conspicuously dangling around their necks, the inspectors spoke at length with the 148FW Airmen, asking them about their training plans, and their file plans, their checklists and their ability to accomplish their given mission. Documents were reviewed, reports were validated and equipment was inventoried. The inspection was as thorough as it was exhaustive.



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