| Veteran service officers will meet returning troops
Robby Robinson, Washington County’s Veterans Services Officer, will again be part of a contingent of veterans services officers from around the state who will meet returning Minnesota National Guard troops after overseas deployment and work with them to smooth their re-integration.
This time, the program will be later in the spring, welcoming troops to Camp Shelby, MS.
Last fall, the Minnesota Association of County Veterans Services Officers aided in the re-integration of about 90 National Guard members from Company B 2-211/ Many of them have Washington County connections, but members are from all over Minnesota and some are from other states.
County veterans services officers from around the state will travel to Mississippi to start the demobilization and re-integration process for the new wave of returning troops.
Part of the process will be to enroll troops in the Veterans Administration health care program, and to start the process for any veteran who will qualify for Veterans Administration benefits.
Linking returning troops to their home county veterans services officer will also be key.
The spring contingent will be larger than the one that returned in November, and will arrive in groups over the course of the re-integration process. The benefit of meeting the troops as they arrive at the fort allows the service officers to meet one-on-one with them, so each may be asked personally, “What are your biggest concerns coming back,” Robinson said, and what can be done to help alleviate those concerns.
The veterans services officers must also realize that the troops will simply want to be home, to be reunited with loved ones, Robinson said. “When you’ve been gone more than a year, it’s quite a feeling when you are back here and need to readjust to family life,” he said. It is always challenging when one member of the household has been carrying the whole load, to have a second person re-enter the picture.
Another challenge is looking for work, for those who will not be returning to a former job. And after that, Robinson said he is looking forward to visiting with the returning troops to see what else it is that they need. It will be similar to the November program, but on a much larger scale, he said.
Robinson and Dale Cotch, another Veterans Services Officer, conduct office hours in the county service centers in Cottage Grove and Forest Lake, as well as in the Government Center in Stillwater.
Office hours are 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday in the county Government Center in Stillwater; 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays in Cottage Grove, call 651-430-6895 for appointments; and 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Mondays and Wednesdays in Forest Lake, call 651-430-6578 for appointments.
Minnesota Guard leaders inducted into Court of Honor
Posted: 2015-10-07 11:02 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Seven retired members of the Minnesota National Guard were recognized before their fellow service members as they were inducted into the Court of Honor, Oct. 4, 2015, at Camp Ripley.
"It is our pleasure to have the opportunity to recognize these select leaders who have served our communities, state and nation with distinction," said Col. John Kolb, chief of staff for Joint Force Headquarters.
The Memorialization Board selects individuals for their service to the Minnesota National Guard as well as continued service to their communities. The board reviews the nominations received and forwards their recommendations to the Minnesota Adjutant General for approval. These inductees join the names of more than 300 others, since 1933, who have demonstrated their unwavering dedication, loyalty and distinguished service to the Minnesota National Guard.
Willmar National Guard Unit Set To Deploy
Posted: 2015-10-05 11:04 AM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 5, 2015
More than 150 Soldiers from the Minnesota Army National Guard's Willmar-based 682nd Engineer Battalion will deploy for an eleven-month mobilization in support of Operation Spartan Shield.
"The deploying Soldiers of the 682nd Engineer Battalion are eager to begin the deployment to Kuwait. This will be the first deployment for two-thirds of the unit, they are ready to create their own deployment experience," said Lt. Col. Keith Ferdon, battalion commander.
"Our battalion will be part of Task Force Wild in Kuwait. As a Minnesota hockey fan that is pretty cool. Our battalion has the mission of managing engineer sustainment operations throughout the Middle East, meaning we manage road and building infrastructure maintenance for coalition forces," said Ferdon.
Minnesota combat medic training center named for famous WWII nurse
Posted: 2015-10-05 09:26 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The Minnesota National Guard on Sunday dedicated its new combat medical training center in honor of Brainerd-native and famous WWII nurse Hortense McKay. She is the first female soldier to have a building named for her at Camp Ripley.
The Medical Simulation Training Center, which opened in May of 2014, specializes in training soldiers how to treat wartime wounded. It caters both to soldiers whose main role is being a combat medic (called "68Ws" in Army parlance) and to regular frontline soldiers looking to learn rudimentary lifesaving skills. Eventually, staff hope to train 2,500 people a year in the art of repairing bodies broken by combat.
Like the rest of Camp Ripley, the MSTC puts soldiers through the most stressful testing simulation possible. Strobe lights and loudspeakers recreate the distracting stimuli of combat, and the mannequins soldiers operate on display gruesome wounds that spew blood.
Last 133rd Airlift Wing Vietnam-Era Veteran Retires
Posted: 2015-09-30 01:56 PM
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Master Sgt. Michael Stephen Phillips, the last Vietnam-era veteran to actively serve in the 133rd Airlift Wing, was honored for his 35 years of service at a retirement ceremony at the 133rd's dining facility, Aug. 23, 2015.
An 18-year-old Phillips first joined the active-duty Air Force on Sep. 18, 1973, as a security police specialist and was stationed at the 148th Fighter Wing (when it was still an active duty base) in Duluth. Following a seven-year break in service after his initial four-year enlistment ended, Phillips' wife saw an ad on television for a special program in the National Guard, prompting his return to service.
"Back then they had what was called the Try-1 program for prior active duty members to join the Guard. It allowed you to sign up for a year and see if you liked it," said Phillips. "If it didn't work out, you could get out, and if it did ... well, I ended up staying for another 31 years!"