Dassel now part of a network providing services to military families
By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, MN As a way to combine resources in order to better serve military men and women, Dassel, along with Meeker County, have become a “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon” community.
Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is a program that works to create awareness for the purpose of connecting service members and their families with community support, training, services, and other resources.
During last Monday’s Dassel City Council meeting, the city was given a proclamation officially designating it a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon community.
With this designation, service members and/or their spouses can depend on a network of volunteers to assist them in a variety of ways, whether it be help around the house or employment assistance.
Dassel American Legion Post 364 Commander Mark Olsen said many Legion members have already been helping local military families, except now, there is a name for it.
For example, Legion members were able to assist a spouse of a deployed service member, whose air conditioning went out in 97-degree weather.
“We were able to get someone there to fix it at no cost,” Olsen said.
This designation also provides an awareness to the military families within the community that there is somewhere they can turn when they find themselves in need.
“There are probably needs out there that we aren’t even aware of yet,” Olsen commented.
Meeker County Veterans Services Officer Chuck Unterberger said that Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is able to provide services the veterans services office not always can.
“It goes beyond what my office provides,” he said.
Financial support for the program is provided in part by Meeker County Veterans Council and the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs.
As of June, 102,000 troops were depolyed to Afghanistan, according to Unterberger. That number is expected to decrease by 33,000 by the end of the year, he noted.
Though he couldn’t say just how many service members are in the Dassel area, Unterberger did note that all members of the Litchfield National Guard unit will be deployed to Afghanistan within a year, leaving more residents in Meeker County in need of this type of service.