Yellow ribbon art

A group serving veterans is keeping up with nine who have returned home to McLeod County this past year. It has also made a connection with 10 young graduates entering the service.

“I think that’s great foresight,” McLeod County Board Member Ron Shimanski said of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon’s plan to connect with service members early.

He spoke following an annual report from Cassandra Carrigan, chair of McLeod County Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, at a board meeting Tuesday morning.

To recognize graduating seniors enlisted in the military, BTYR provides flag pins for the outgoing student to wear at their ceremony.

“It’s just to thank them for joining the military and serving their country,” Carrigan said. “That’s our starting point.”

“I think that will go a long way as they enter their career and return,” Shimanski said. “They will know they have a support system.”

McLeod County was recognized as a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Community in 2014, marking statewide recognition that there was a plan and a will in place to improve the lives of veterans and their families. It maintains a list of a variety of local resources as well as its minutes on the county’s website at tinyurl.com/y3ontzwo.

The list includes numerous businesses that provide military discounts, free services for young families, health services, mental health services and more.

Each month, BTYR meets with local stakeholders to learn about the services they offer veterans and their families. Steering committee members also receive training and information from the state organization.

Each year at the McLeod County Fair, BTYR hosts an event to recognize veterans and those who have returned in the past year. At the 2018 fair, two of 13 returning veterans participated in the event.

BYTR’s fifth welcome home event will be at the McLeod County Fair Sunday, Aug. 18.

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