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Reintegration programs set for Red Bulls

Over the weekend Rosemount residents might notice a large number of uniformed soldiers around town. The soldiers, who are all part of the 34th Infantry Division, will be in town for their one year reintegration event.

While it's been closer to a year and four months since the soldiers came home, the National Guard wants to make sure they are adjusting to life back home, said Sgt. Melanie Nelson.

Through the Yellow Ribbon program, soldiers go through reintegration programs at 30, 60 and 90 days and then again at a year. The Yellow Ribbon program aims to provide soldiers the tools and resources they need to overcome any struggles the encounter while returning to life back home.

Over the weekend, soldiers who deployed with the Red Bulls will have the opportunity to talk with organizations that provide ongoing support to veterans. Additionally, there will be seminars on different issues including finances, relationships, education, employment and medical. Each soldier will pick two seminars to attend.

Nelson said research has shown those five topics are usually what soldiers struggle with when they get home. Employment has been an especially difficult issue since this particular group returned.

More than 1,200 soldiers deployed with the Red Bulls to Iraq in February 2009. The soldiers, who provided command and control of military forces in the southern third of Iraq, returned in three waves in January 2010.

Headquartered at Contingency Operating Base Basra, the 34th Infantry Division led a force of approximately 14,000 U.S. service members throughout nine of Iraq's 18 provinces.

As well as a time to check in, the reintegration will serve as a time for soldiers to see each other. Nelson said some of the soldiers haven't seen each other since they returned home.

The weekend will end with a family picnic. Members of the Rosemount Knights of Columbus Council 5569 and Rosemount VFW will help with the event.

Nelson said not every returning group does a family event but the leaders of the Red Bulls wanted to do it.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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