Yellow Ribbon Program supports military families

Published 9:09 am Monday, May 2, 2011

I am writing to you today as a military family to share with you just how important we believe that beyond the Yellow Ribbon Program and community involvement to get the city of Albert Lea declared a Yellow Ribbon City is.

I am a military wife and mother. I have two soldiers that I am proud of. Kevin was an active duty soldier for 12 1/2 years. He and my daughter, Amber, have been in the Minnesota National Guard for almost five years. We have been on both sides of the fence, so to speak.

On an active duty military installation, you know there is always someone, whether it is at the rec center, the bowling alley, church, or PX, that is experiencing some of the same stressors. We babysat, went to parks, took bus trips together. We knew who was the most trustworthy car mechanic shop. We knew there would be invites to organized activities. During Operation Desert Storm, we knew who was hosting dinner on Thursday, just to hang out together or figure out how to solve the current crisis in one of our families’ lives. You build relationships like old friends. Now 20 years later I still have contact and maintain friendships with those families.

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In the National Guard, things are a little different. During deployment, many things go on in military neighbors’ homes. For some, their financial situation may have changed drastically. Sgt. Joe’s wife may be taking on a part time job. They may for the first time, need day-care assistance. Some of us may be many miles from our immediate families; therefore dropping them off at grammas may not bean option.

The furnace filter needs to be changed? That was Sgt. Joe’s area. It is now his wife’s. Where is it located? What do you mean model number? Where do I find that? Is the reset button red or green? There are many car maintenance shops. The car has always been Sgt. Joe’s job. Whom do I trust? Is this a fair price?

The snow removal and raking is always appreciated but now how do I get the 20 bags of leaves to the dump? I promise that one of my strengths is not hooking up and towing a trailer.

The YMCA memberships help as a great stress reliever and for us to stay active and healthy.

Tax prep services are invaluable to us. That may have been Sgt Joe’s thing to do. After all, he is the one with all the sticky rules and alphanumeric tax forms.

Maybe Pvt. Joe just finished basic and is now being deployed. His parents are so proud, but there are still so many things to be done. Who will do them when he leaves?

Our communities are our “posts.” We are stationed at “Fort Minnesota.”

During the last deployment, we had the honor to be at the receiving end of the generosity of Crossroads Church. Thank you. In the past, it has been part of the Yellow Ribbon Community, and I hope they will continue to do so as words cannot express how thankful we are.

The advice I always give to new spouses that are experiencing their first deployment is:

If a problem arises, try to fix it yourself. If you cannot find someone to help you fix it. I try never to give my husband a distraction that may take his attention away from the mission. It may endanger him and his battle buddies if his thoughts are at home with us. Please help make these services and help keep our soldiers thoughts on the task. As a community, you can help us as military families to do just that.

God bless America.

Tina Clapper

Albert Lea