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Program aims to help soldiers adjust

The road back from war can be a long journey filled with its own battles. Soldiers returning face a multitude of issues including mental, family and work-related stresses.

To help soldiers adjust the Minnesota National Guard has established a reintegration program called Beyond the Yellow Ribbon. And while much of the program focuses on the soldiers and their families, it also addresses ways community leaders can help.

In December Rosemount leaders will get an introduction to that program. Chaplain John Morris, who developed the program, said an introduction will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Rosemount United Methodist Church.

About 90 National Guardsman live in Rosemount and more than 1,500 live in Dakota County said mayor Bill Droste. To better help those soldiers and their families the National Guard wants to help community leaders understand the challenge soldiers and their families face. Specifically, the program focuses on the unique issues National Guard soldiers go through.

"A lot of times (soldiers) will spend as much time readjusting to life as they were deployed for," said Morris.

Jason Solberg, a city of Rosemount employee and veteran, will speak about his experience coming back from Iraq. In addition, Michelle Solheid, whose husband has served two tours of duty, one in Iraq and one in Bosnia, will speak about the impacts her husband's deployments have had on their family

After an opening session for everyone, break out sessions will focus on specific topics such as how schools can help military kids, how employers can help soldiers and how faith-based organizations can meet the needs of soldiers and their families.

Anyone in the community can attend the two hour program, but Morris said he hopes to attract community leaders including clergy and teachers who can take the information back to their organizations.

The Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program is the first part of on going services that will help Rosemount leaders and organizations handle returning soldiers and their families.

Morris said the National Guard has partnered with the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute to create the Warrior to Citizen program that will provide further resources.

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon was developed by Morris in Minnesota. Other states have adopted similar programs since then. This year the United States Congress mandated that all states have a reintegration program for returning National Guard soldiers. The Minnesota program, Morris said, is the example most states have used.

For more information on Beyond the Yellow Ribbon visit