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Wadena named a Yellow Ribbon community

Wadena's support of military families helped inspire the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program, and now the city is being officially designated as a Yellow Ribbon community.

Wadena and several other towns were proclaimed Yellow Ribbon communities and honored in a ceremony at the Detroit Lakes Pavilion Aug. 22, with Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Congressman Collin Peterson speaking.

National Guard Sgt. Matthew Nygren, Training NCO working at the Wadena Armory, said Minnesota's Yellow Ribbon program was started by Adjutant General Larry Shelito and then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty. He added that during a 2004 deployment, Yellow Ribbon founders were impressed by how Wadena and a couple of other communities supported their troops.

"They had seen a lot of support for the troops, and support and care for the soldiers after they came home between deployments, not necessarily just while they are deployed," Nygren said. "They had been here in 2004 and seen that type of support, and they wanted other communities to get on."

Nygren read the objective of the Yellow Ribbon program, which is to "establish and sustain a local Yellow Ribbon Network that proactively works together in order to meet the needs of service members and military families."

Karla Richardson of Verndale, veteran and Minnesota Patriot Guard state ride captain, agreed community support in the area is strong.

Mayor Wayne Wolden said recognition was given to Wadena for the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program, which had already been occurring in Wadena.

The proclamation was received by Wolden, Richardson, Evelyn Otto and Diane Leaders.

To receive the designation, Nygren said, Wadena met the requirements for an action plan template in key areas, including city leadership, public safety, judicial departments, veterans' organizations, social services, medical providers, faith-based resources, businesses and employers, and a Yellow Ribbon Steering Committee guiding the overall effort.

Richardson said Yellow Ribbon communities have supports in place to serve military veterans and their families, and there are about 130 support networks established across Minnesota.

Nygren said Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is for support of military members and their families of all branches of military service, both past and present.

Nygren also said Yellow Ribbon services are not necessarily military-related, and can include mowing a lawn, giving rides and other types of assistance.

Nygren said any past or present military members and their family members may contact him about Yellow Ribbon services, and it is confidential.

The Wadena Armory can be reached at 218-631-1701, and Nygren can also be reached at