By Jennifer Kotila
COKATO, MN Nominated by employee and National Guardsman Jake Nelson, the Village Ranch of Cokato received recognition Thursday for being a patriotic employer.
The Village Ranch provides a continuum of care through a wide range of programs and services for all youth in central Minnesota.
In the ceremony, which took place on the Village Ranch lawn, retired National Guard veteran Mike Bellows presented Village Ranch Executive Director Scott Bakeberg with a certificate from the Office of the Secretary of Defense for “contributing to the national security and protecting liberty and freedom by supporting employee participation in America’s National Guard and reserve forces.”
Bellows noted how important it was for employers to support members of the armed forces as they serve the country and after they return.
There are more than 1 million men and women in the National Guard Reserve, which makes up 50 percent of the US Armed Forces, Bellows added.
Bakeberg thanked the board of the Village Ranch for being assertive in making it possible to have members of the National Guard as employees.
The Village Ranch was also presented with two certificates of appreciation from the Cokato American Legion Post 209 one for being a patriotic employer, and the other for flying the POW/MIA flag.
Village Ranch residents assisted in the ceremony, reading the invocation and “Your Flag and My Flag.”
Nelson ended the ceremony thanking the Village Ranch for its continued dedication to life and country by allowing those who serve to be employees.
Willard Weller, a veteran who has been employed at the Village Ranch, also presented Bakeberg with an American flag.
Bakeberg also signed a statement of support for employing members of the Armed Forces.