Fair Celebrates Yellow Ribbon Program For Veterans

Minnesota leads the country in its Beyond Yellow Ribbon program to help military personnel, veterans and their families, and state leaders used the State Fair to celebrate.

“Companies and communities have shown immense support,” Maj. Gen. Rick Nash, Minnesota National Guard’s adjutant general, told hundreds gathered at the Minnesota State Fair Tuesday to celebrate the military.

The Yellow Ribbon program provides services to military personnel, with such things as helping reintegrate them back into their communities when returning from a deployment. It also helps families understand what is going on with their military loved ones and provide other services.

More than 290 cities, counties, businesses and nonprofit organizations are involved in Yellow Ribbon.

“The individuals at these cities, counties and companies have taken it upon themselves to identify resources in their community to support our military-connected residents and their families,” said Annette Kuyper, Minnesota National Guard director of military outreach.

The Yellow Ribbon State Fair celebration included a flyover by World War II-era P6 and B25 aircraft and speeches by politicians. Carousel Park was full of military-related exhibits.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton said that when he was U.S. senator, he helped get the first federal Yellow Ribbon funding with U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn.

In this time of sharp political partisan divides, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said helping the military has been bipartisan, reminding the audience that Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty helped start the program.

She said that the best way to honor veterans and military personnel is to “treat them with dignity and respect.” She said she is working on improving health care at federal Veterans’ Administration facilities.

A bill Klobuchar co-wrote would give military medics an easier path to become civilian medical workers when they are discharged.