Recently, Nicole Rasmussen, Minnesota School of Business-Elk River’s (MSB) community manager, was able to experience and witness National Guard training firsthand. Through a continuing partnership with the Army National Guard office in Elk River, Rasmussen was invited to attend an all-day event at Camp Ripley as their guest and part of an event lead by the 1-151 Field Artillery (FA) and the ESGR (Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve). The event was held in appreciation of employers and families of service members and veterans.
MSB and Globe University are Minnesota State Yellow Ribbon schools; this honor was presented to the organization in 2010 by former Governor Tim Pawlenty. Our schools have also earned the following awards: Military Times 2014 Best For Vets, GI Jobs 2014 Military Friendly, and Military Advanced Education’s 2014 Top Military Friendly. In 2012, the Minnesota Twins also honored the organization as a Yellow Ribbon Company.
According to Rasmussen, “It was an absolute honor and privilege to represent the organization on this once-in-a-lifetime tour. As the daughter, granddaughter, cousin and friend of many veterans, and as a strong supporter of the military, I appreciated the opportunity to spend a day in the trenches and show my appreciation for all that they do.”
The day began with an introductory presentation to the group of employers and family members of the service members who were currently training at the facility. Members of each group provided an overview of Camp Ripley, its history and layout, and finally explained the day’s events and why the event was being held.
ESGR, which began in 1972, is an organization solely dedicated to the support and employment of today’s veterans. The event was organized to provide an opportunity for employers to witness firsthand the training that their employees (National Guard members) are receiving when they are called to Camp Ripley.
The unit that Rasmussen’s group was able to partner with was the 1-151 FA. Rasmussen was accompanied by Liz Nyquist, Jeff Holmstrom, Charlie Bebus (National Guard Recruiters) along with Representative Nick Zerwas and three other local community supporters on the tour. The group was able to travel by bus and then by an LMTV (light medium tactical vehicle or a five-ton) to the unit’s training area where they were able to observe firing of artillery close-up as well as the location where the ammunition reached its target.
Nyquist, a combat veteran, shared her appreciation and explained, “We chose a group of community members who have always been huge supporters of the National Guard and us. We wanted to say ‘thank you’ by taking the group to Ripley so that they could see who we recruit and what they do.”
The group also had the opportunity to enjoy lunch with the unit. An MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) which is an individually-wrapped field ration was supplied by the ESGR and gave the visitors a real “taste” of military lifestyle. Rasmussen enjoyed a chili mac meal as suggested by Nyquist, which, according to Rasmussen, “really wasn’t all that bad!”
The next stop on the tour was a visit to the 1st Brigade Combat Team 1-94 Cavalry’s training area and the group met up with Nick Byers, a criminal justice graduate from the MSB-Elk River campus. Byers was able to give the visitors a tour of his Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV). He has served in the National Guard since 2006 and his service included a tour in Iraq in 2011-2012. In addition to his duties with the military, Byers is also employed as a Corrections Officer at Rush City Correctional Facility.
The day concluded with a tour of the Department of Natural Resources museum which is located on site at Camp Ripley and a visit to the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES/PX) to pick up souvenirs before the group headed back to Elk River.
Rasmussen and the others have been asked to return to Camp Ripley in October for an interactive tour which includes a ride on a Chinook helicopter and a run through the Confidence Course. Rasmussen explained that she’s “beyond excited for the opportunity to visit again and to participate in some challenging activities.”
For more information about MSB and GU’s commitment and continuing support of military service members and their families, click here . To read more about the ESGR, click here. For more information on Camp Ripley and the Minnesota National Guard, click here.