| 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 am – 4:30 pm Monday through Friday in the county Government Center in Stillwater; 8 am – 4:30 pm Tuesdays and Fridays in Cottage Grove, call 651-430-6895 for appointments; and 8 am – 4:30 pm, Mondays and Wednesdays in Forest Lake, call 651-430-6578 for appointments
Norwegian youth recognized for response to vehicle accident
Posted: 2017-02-22 09:59 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Norwegian youths Stian Dahl and Haavard Engen received the Camp Ripley Garrison Commander's coin from Col. Scott St Sauver February 19, 2017, in recognition for reacting to a vehicle accident they witnessed earlier that week.
As part of the U.S.-Norway Reciprocal Troop Exchange, Norwegian youths ages 19-20 are matched up with a host family in order to spend an evening experiencing American culture. In most situations the "Buddy Weekend" as it's called allows the youths to go shopping, attend events and have home-cook meals along with their host family.
"We are able to match up youth members with families all over the state," said Staff Sgt. Tim Krouth, Buddy Weekend organizer. "Lots of the families have hosted one or two of our Norwegian friends for several years in a row now, it a great way to relax and see some of Minnesota."
To the top of the mountain and back, NOREX 44 members embrace the Norwegian winter
Posted: 2017-02-21 01:25 PM
HALTDALEN, Norway - After two days at a base camp near Haltdalen, Norway, Minnesota National Guardsmen participating in the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange were ready for the most challenging aspect of their four-day field training exercise - a ski march up the mountain.
It was Day three of the FTX, meaning members of the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange had slowly adjusted to surviving and thriving while living in a winter environment and also honed their skills on cross country skills well enough to begin a climb that would take nearly three hours.
"Our goal was to get you to know how to use the winter, see how the Norwegians use the winter, and how we survive the winter so we can conduct combat," said Vidar Aune, one of several members of Home Guard 12 guiding the Minnesota National Guard Soldiers and Airmen during their training here. "By getting the experience living outside in the snow, you manage to survive it and handle it quite well."
Norwegian youth train with Minnesota National Guard
Posted: 2017-02-16 10:52 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. -Youth of the Norwegian Home Guard experienced some of Minnesota culture along with focused military style training during the first week of NOREX 2017.
The U.S.--Norway reciprocal Troop Exchange, which began Feb. 9, 2017, annually swaps approximately 100 Soldiers and Airmen from the Minnesota National Guard and a like number of Norwegian Home Guard soldiers as well as youths to experience each other's training, military lifestyle and most importantly, culture.
"It's rewarding interacting with more young people eager to learn about a new lifestyle and culture," said Capt. Brett Farniok, Youth Platoon Officer-in-Charge.
Warmly welcomed, U.S. contingent arrives in Norway for NOREX 44
Posted: 2017-02-12 01:38 PM
CAMP VAERNES, Norway - Following a muster at the 133rd Airlift Wing and an eight-hour overnight flight across the Atlantic Ocean, nearly 100 Soldiers and Airmen with the Minnesota National Guard finally arrived in Norway to conduct the 44th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange on Feb. 9, 2017.
While the U.S.-based Soldiers were warmly greeted by members of the Norwegian Home Guard at Camp Vaernes, a similarly-sized group of Norwegian Home Guard members were received at Camp Ripley Training Center. The arrival of military members from both countries to their host nations formally began the annual exchange, which provides a unique opportunity for individuals to become fully-immersed in foreign military and social culture.
"Though I didn't know what to expect before getting here, they have been very welcoming," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Taylor Hanson, a member of the 148th Fighter Wing. "They are making sure we had everything."