Austin garners status of Yellow Ribbon cityPublished 9:51am Friday, July 27, 2012
AUSTIN — After more than a year of planning and coordinating between locals, Austin has been recognized for its effort to help military families and is now a Yellow Ribbon Community.
Local founders will travel to Mankato today, when Austin and several other communities will receive their official recognition as Yellow Ribbon communities during a 3 p.m. ceremony at South Central College. Gov. Mark Dayton will also speak at the event.
Yellow Ribbon communities are designated by the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon organization. The communities are deened to have a network of people and resources for which military families can rely for many types of everyday issues. Albert Lea was named an official Yellow Ribbon Community at a ceremony Aug. 31, 2011. It has an active support group to help families of military members.
“The outward showing of support by these communities eases the burden for military families, eases the transition from warrior to citizen and builds a stronger and more compassionate community,” said Annette Kuyper, Minnesota National Guard director of military outreach.
Austin leaders have held both informal and formal meetings during the past year to make Austin a Yellow Ribbon Community. Chairman Paul Spyhalski is happy with the results.
“I think it came together pretty well in part because we had the deployment, so everybody had something to focus on,” Spyhalski said.
Yet Beyond the Yellow Ribbon will be more than a list of phone numbers of those who can mow lawns, fix cars or do other chores for struggling military families.
“We can do anything from that, parents’ night out, daycare, to housework to financial counseling, chemical dependency issues, family counseling,” Spyhalski added.
Among helping on the individual and family levels, Beyond the Yellow Ribbon offers some greater opportunities around the state. Spyhalski said there are family reintegration seminars, concerts, gatherings for military families and even scholarships for kids of fallen military parents.
Even services that haven’t been employed but may still be needed can become realities, too.
“If you ask for it, we’ll find a way to get it for you,” Spyhalski said. “That’s kind of what we exist to do.”
Among the city of Austin, Blue Earth, Nicollet, Le Sueur and Rock counties will become Beyond the Yellow Ribbon counties.
Upcoming local military events:
• Family reintegration Academy, Rochester: Aug. 5
• American Legion Legacy Ride through Austin, provides legacy scholarships for kids of fallen military parents: Aug. 12.
• Local military family get together, Lions Park, Austin: Aug. 25
• Taste of Rochester: Rockin’ for our Heroes, Soldier’s Field in Rochester: Sept. 8