Do you know that Farmington, Minnesota is the nation’s first “Yellow Ribbon” Community? Why? Because a group of citizens came together onÂ a hotÂ AugustÂ evening in 2008 to answer the question, “How can we become a community that goes over and above to support Service Members, Military Families and Veterans?Â This led the way for the state of Minnesota to recognize those communities who create sustainable action plans to infuse supportÂ for military families throughout every area of the community. Over the last 3 years, Farmington’s group has hosted monthly Veteran Dinners, honored military mohter and grandmothers with an elegant annual luncheon, held a Welcome Home parade for Vietnam Veterans, hosted an annual Military Family Picnic and held many educational events to learn more about what a military family lives with during a deployment. In addition they have over 200 volunteers who answer the call for help to any Military Family or Veteran in need.Â From cleaning homes, tutoring children, household chores, landscaping and snow shoveling…whatever military families need, they are there. To learn more about becoming a Yellow Ribbon Community, go to www.beyondtheyellowribbon.orgÂ or visit the Farmington website at www.farmingtonw2c.org.Â They are dedicated to bringing Service Members all the way home and to ensure that no Veteran or Military Family feels isolated or alone.
Over 2,000 National Guard Service Members and their families are preparing for another deployment in May. For some, this is their first deployment. For one, it is his 7th! If you have every been at a deployment ceremony, you know how heartbreaking it is.Â
How can aÂ family prepare? Here are some tips:
1)Â Surround yourself with support; let your coworkers know that you will haveÂ good and bad days and that you need their support.Â Plan time with those friends and family who are your biggest supporters.
2) Prepare a plan to take care of yourself.Â If you are not already, get in an exercise routine,Â take a nutrition class and begin to eat properly, sign up for yoga…the best de-stressor out there.Â
3) Learn to listen to yourself…on those bad days, “ride the wave” …let the feelings come..cry, be sad but then let the “wave” come into shore and settle over the sand. Start the next day again, feel the pride you feel in your Servicemember for what they are doing forÂ our country andÂ you will feel stronger.
4)Â Learn to say no…you may not be able to do all the things you once did.Â Say no to extra tasks that you do not need to do right now and do not feel guilty. “Close ranks” as they say in the military and do what you need to do to get through this stressful time.
5)Â If you have the capacity, get involved. Helping others is the best therapy. Join your Family Readiness Group to assist other military families, volunteerÂ with a cause you are passionate about…if you haveÂ children they can join you and youÂ will all feel better helping others.
6) Ask for help. There are so many people out there who want toÂ help in every community in MN. They want to support you. You can find themÂ on the Military Family Care Initiative (www.beyondtheyellowribbon.org)Â Â Â Â
Overall, the best support you can give to your deployed loved one is to take care of yourself so they do not worry about you. Let them focus on their mission to come home safe and sound. You focus on taking care of the home front for them …..and you will survive.
This blog will be dedicated to Servicemembers and Military Families. I will be highlighting the efforts of my state and my communityÂ inÂ supporting, recognizing and honoring veterans and those serving in the military. Why? Because I am a military mother whoÂ sent her 22 year old son to fight in a war. Write to me and tell me how you have been honoring our nations military…..I will tell you more about the wonderful people I work with who are helping make our communities places in which our military families feel supported and honored.