Apple Valley earns Yellow Ribbon status
Program seeks to assist military members and their families
by Andrew Miller
Bill Tschohl remembers a less-than-warm welcome home for soldiers returning from Vietnam.
The Apple Valley resident says he hopes Beyond the Yellow Ribbon will provide military members with the respect and community support they deserve.
“I remember a lot of people that served in Vietnam, and it was like the plague if you served there,” said Tschohl, a longtime local realtor. “The emphasis (of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon) to me is just honoring these fellas, showing them respect, helping them out.”
Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is a program spearheaded by the Minnesota National Guard to help service members, veterans and their families, especially those dealing with deployment or post-deployment integration.
Tschohl has been part of the effort to make Apple Valley a Yellow Ribbon City – a certification that will be made official Friday, March 30.
Apple Valley and two other cities will be certified in a 3 p.m. ceremony at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 10658 210th St. W., Lakeville, Gov. Mark Dayton and Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General Richard C. Nash will attend.
To gain certification, Apple Valley’s eight Yellow Ribbon subcommittees were required to complete action plans showing ways different segments of the community can support veterans now and in the future.
Bruce Folken, chairman of Apple Valley’s Yellow Ribbon steering committee, likened the organization to “the hub of a wheel,” a directory of sorts that coordinates efforts by local groups – such as the Rotary Club, American Legion, Chamber of Commerce and churches – that provide resources, services and training opportunities to military members and their families.
“You have a lot of people within a community doing things on parallel tracks, but they often times don’t know what the others are doing – they’re doing great things, but they don’t interlock,” Folken said.
“We don’t offer much besides getting all these people together. But then, all of a sudden you’ve got all kinds of people with all kinds of great ideas, and you really see how strong a community is and what it’s capable of.”
Other Dakota County communities such as Lakeville and Farmington have already become Yellow Ribbon cities, and Folken, a member of the Dakota County Human Services Advisory Committee, said the committee’s goal is to have all cities within the county earn Yellow Ribbon status.
Apple Valley’s Yellow Ribbon group has about 40 members and meets monthly. The group, which has no budget, is now seeking nonprofit status so it can accept donations, Folken said.
In addition to the certification ceremony in Lakeville, the Apple Valley group will celebrate its Yellow Ribbon status with an event at the city’s American Legion post, planned for late April.
To get involved with Beyond the Yellow Ribbon locally, visit Facebook.com/applevalleyyellowribbonnetwork.
Andrew Miller can be reached at email@example.com or facebook.com/sunthisweek.