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With hundreds of Minnesota National Guard troops preparing to deploy to the Middle East next year, First Lady Mary Pawlenty announced today that the Military Family Care Initiative will continue and expand to provide additional assistance to military families during times of deployment.
The web-based program will, going forward, be run by the National Guard’s Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program.
In addition to community-based organizations volunteering their time and services, businesses will now be able to register services and discounts intended to benefit military families.
“During the last seven years, community-based organizations throughout Minnesota have provided volunteer services to lighten burdens placed on military families during deployment,” First Lady Mary Pawlenty said. “Under the National Guard’s direction, the Military Family Care Initiative will not only continue, it will expand.”
Launched in 2003 by the First Lady, the Military Family Care Initiative now has hundreds of groups and organizations registered to help Minnesota families. The success of the initiative has made it a nation-leading model, generating several similar programs in other states. Most recently, North Carolina First Gentleman Bob Eaves launched “Carolina Helping Heroes” based on Mary Pawlenty’s Military Family Care Initiative.
“As I visited last week with Minnesotans serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait, it was apparent that their families are never far from their thoughts,” Governor Pawlenty said. “Through the Military Family Care Initiative, community organizations and businesses can offer their support to our military families in tangible ways.”
The First Lady’s Military Family Care Initiative can now be found at www.militaryfamilies.state.mn.us, or a link on www.beyondtheyellowribbon.org. The website will remain an electronic database for military families to locate and contact registered organizations, and now businesses, within their community who offer services to military families. Any community or faith-based organization can sign up through the website.
The National Guard’s Beyond the Yellow Ribbon staff will oversee the initiative and the addition of business services and discounts for military families.
“Many servicemembers and military families across Minnesota have benefited from the First Lady’s Military Family Care Initiative. We thank her for her compassion and caring. The Minnesota National Guard’s Military Family Care Initiative will carry forward the First Lady’s vision,” Major General Larry Shellito, the Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General said. “I’m often asked, ‘How can I help?’ If your organization or business would like to offer support, please register at BeyondTheYellowRibbon.org.”
With the National Guard and Reserves no longer serving only one weekend a month and two weeks a year, support of community organizations and businesses is very important to military families as they endure lengthy overseas deployments. Some servicemembers are currently serving their second, third, or fourth tour of duty. Since September 11, 2001, the Minnesota National Guard and the Army Reserves have mobilized more than 20,000 soldiers and airmen to more than 33 countries.
The Department of Defense announced in July the alert of approximately 2,700 Minnesota National Guard Soldiers of the Bloomington-based 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division to prepare for a deployment in support of Operation New Dawn throughout Kuwait and Iraq in 2011-12. In addition, Minnesota active duty military members and reservists are continuously being deployed to the Middle East and elsewhere around the world.
More than 500 Minnesota National Guard Citizen-Soldiers and –Airmen are currently deployed worldwide.