Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program draws a large crowd
Soldiers returning from war and their families have a lot to overcome. As a community with nearly National Guard 100 soldiers living in it Rosemount has the opportunity to support those soldiers and their families.
On Thursday night nearly 60 residents spent a couple of hours learning how to do that through the National Guard Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program at the Rosemount United Methodist Church. The Minnesota based program aims to help soldiers returning from combat reintergrate into their communities.
The event drew a diverse crowd including politicians, teachers, medical professionals, clergy and business owners.
Lt. Cl. John Morris who leads the program said it was good crowd especially considering the time of year.
"From our point of view it was a wonderful evening," said Morris.
The event began with a group meeting in which two Rosemount residents shared their personal stories of war and return. Jayson Solberg, a Rosemount city employee, shared with the crowd his experience in Iraq and the difficult journey back to a "normal" life.
Also Michelle Solheid, an employee with the Rosemount Police Department, shared with the crowd her experience as the spouse of a soldier who was deployed for a year. Her husband Eric spent a year in Iraq, he returned earlier this year.
"This isn't theoretical, its personal," said Morris of their stories.
After the group meeting several breakout sessions were held to address specific issues including how schools can support military kids, how employers can support military personnel and their families, and how faith-based organizations can help families.
At the end of the evening everyone in attendance reconverged and Morris encourage people in the community to continue their support through a new program called Warrior to Citizen. The grass roots program has been established to provide continuing support to soldiers and their families.
"We're not asking you to support the political policy," said Morris. "We're asking you to support the soldiers."
For more information on the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program visit www.minnesotanationalguard.org.