Military Reintegration in the News

Trained to kill….but what happens when they come home?

That’s the title of a front page story in the Strib this morning (click on it to read the article). The subject of military reintegration has consumed much of my time over the past year. Just this past month I was part of an effort with the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, the Minnesota Sheriffs Association and the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Task Force that distributed military reintegration training DVD’s to over 400 law enforcement agencies through out the state. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with the Minnesota National Guard presenting military reintegration briefings to numerous law enforcement agencies in Minnesota.

The issues that surround military reintegration are very complicated and very numerous. But the important thing is that the information void that previously existed regarding returning combat veterans, a void that still exists but is improving drastically, is getting the attention it deserves. I challenge you to read , to listen, to pay attention to the issues that surround military reintegration. There are a lot of dedicated people working to improve conditions for these very deserving military service personnel. Pay attention and do your part to help.

The one message I want to leave you with today is one that I don’t think gets enough attention. There is a lot of attention paid to the negative impacts of military deployment, and those impacts are significant. And it is our duty to do what we can to help. However, the combat vets I have met and heard stories about are not damaged goods. Quite the opposite. Through positive reintegration support, these people are coming back to be very productive and positive contributors to our communities.  They have seen things, had experiences, overcome challenges that many of us will never imagine.  They have gained perspective, developed skills and grown as individuals.  And they come home to humbly resume their lives without asking for thanks.

Well, hear is something we can all do, say thanks.  Welcome them home, say thank you, then ask to hear their stories.  But if you ask, honestly listen, listen on their terms, don’t use the stories to validate your personal agenda, don’t politicize or sensationalize.  Just listen to them and appreciate them.  As MNNG Chaplain John Morris says at the end of all e-mails :

“Expecting great things from Minnesota’s
 greatest generation: Our Combat Veterans”