3/1/2018 3:30:00 PM 'Beyond the Yellow Ribbon' enlists community resources to support veterans and their families
Forty individuals representing a cross-section of government officials, community agencies, and civic organizations gathered at the Chisago Lakes Library Feb. 21 to learn more about a non-profit, community based program called “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon.” Those attending had responded to an invitation to become part of a Chisago Lakes Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Steering Committee.
Leading the local Beyond the Yellow Ribbon initiative is Chisago City resident Cory Boogaard, a 19-year veteran of the Minnesota National Guard who was twice deployed to Iraq. Boogaard told the group that as he approached his 20th anniversary of service, he began to feel that it was time to get more active in his own community while also helping veterans and their families. His goal is to make the Chisago Lakes area a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Community.
According to the National Guard’s website, the goal is to unite all resources in the community to create a comprehensive network that connects and coordinates agencies, organizations, resources and employers for the purpose of proactively supporting service members and military families. Since the first Beyond the Yellow Ribbon community was proclaimed in 2008, several have been operating as 501(c) (3) organizations.
The Minnesota National Guard has pioneered the program in hopes of changing how soldiers and airmen are reintegrated back to their communities. Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is named as a reminder that the support of soldiers cannot end when they return from deployment.
Beyond the Yellow Ribbon currently operates in seven states and is working on establishing programs in nine others. Boogaard said that Isanti County has one of the most well established programs in Minnesota and will mentor the new program in Chisago Lakes.
The first step in the process is to establish a steering committee comprised representatives of key areas:
- City leaders, veterans and civic organizations such as Rotary, Masons, Lions, etc. and, military entities
- K-12 education, community education and youth programs
- Public safety/police and EMTs, judges and lawyers
- Businesses and employers, chamber of commerce
- Faith-based groups, chaplains, Red Cross and United Way, medical and mental health provider non-profits. The committee will also select officers and, once organized, meet at least quarterly. Down the road, the non-profit organization will also do some fund-raising to support its efforts.
Those attending last week’s gathering helped Boogaard identify existing community resources and activities and offered suggestions of additional steering committee members and future activities that could involve veterans or their families.
One idea put forward was a veteran-to-veteran program that would give older veterans an opportunity to sit down and visit with recently returning veterans.
The public will be invited to attend the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Kickoff event in April. Tentative dates are either Saturday, April 14, or April 28, at Lakes Free Church in Lindstrom. Watch this newspaper for future details.
In addition to those who serve on the steering committee, volunteers of all ages are invited to get involved. For more information, contact Cory Boogaard at 763-232-5285 or cboogard@hotmail. com.