Austin’s Beyond the Yellow Ribbon group may soon become official

Published 9:09 am Wednesday, May 30, 2012

AUSTIN — Military families, veterans and active soldiers in the Austin area may soon have an official resource for social issues and everyday burdens.

Austin’s Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, a program that creates a network of locals that helps military families in need, may have an official designation by this fall. Albert Lea was officially recognized as a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon community in August 2011.

While the group’s efforts have not been approved by the local National Guard or deemed as an official Beyond the Yellow Ribbon organization by the state, Paul Spyhalski, who is currently leading the efforts, said about 30 to 40 people are on an email list as potential helpers.

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“I would say by fall, we should be there,” Spyhalski said about receiving the designation. “Hopefully sooner.”

The network of volunteers could help burdened military families with many tasks. Volunteers could change oil on cars, mow lawns, watch kids, fix leaks and do a menagerie of other tasks.

Spyhalski said another meeting will be held at noon June 20 at Austin’s City Hall, and a steering committee meeting at 6:30 p.m. June 21 at the Austin VFW. And the network of potential volunteers is already going beyond simply helping people. Some have organized a military all stars baseball game for July 13, in which local servicemembers will take on the Austin Greyhounds. Among several family reintegration academies for returning soldiers, a military family picnic is being planned for August, as well.

Those interested in joining beyond the Austin Beyond the Yellow Ribbon group can contact Spyhalski at For more information about the Albert Lea Beyond the Yellow Ribbon group contact the group’s chairman, John Severtson, at 507-473-3480 or