Dr. Jan Meyer: Radio listening is more than entertainment

By : 
Dr. Jan Meyer
The Biker's Diary

Back during my tenure as a college professor, I knew almost immediately when I had a military veteran among my students. I always started a new term with small group activities enabling students to rapidly become acquainted with their classmates. I mixed up the small group membership quickly, so before the end of the first week students had had an opportunity to meet everyone in the class. Not only did they get to meet each other, and hopefully become quickly comfortable in “my” classroom, I also got an opportunity to watch the small groups working together.

The veterans were the ones who stood out, who demonstrated from the start their ability to work in a group and as a team. They were motivated, polite and respectful of others, and demonstrated leadership skills. Of course, they were not all exactly the same, either, but on average I was always impressed.

I am often in my car early in the morning, and radio provides good company and entertainment as I drive. It was during these times that I discovered Minnesota Military Radio. I enjoy, and appreciate, that program so much that now, even when I am not in the car, I try to tune in every weekend to listen. It was listening to that program that I learned I am not the only one who appreciates the many skills that military veterans can apply to their lives after their service. That program is where I learned about Yellow Ribbon companies.

Yellow Ribbon businesses are ones that recognize the value of employees who have served their country. Those companies make a point to recruit veterans as employees, and pledge to provide support for future military obligations. It is a program of the Minnesota Department of Military Affairs, started in 2007. It includes companies who pledge to “proactively support service members and military families by creating a workplace culture that supports and meets the needs of service members, veterans and military families.”

To be designated a Yellow Ribbon company, it must include several components such as Human Resource Recruiting, Policy and Procedures, along with Training and Development, and Community and Employee Outreach and Support Departments. Other organizations can achieve Yellow Ribbon status, such as educational institutions, and even cities. For example, the city of St. Paul has been designated a Yellow Ribbon Community.

To become a Yellow Ribbon Company, it works with the Minnesota State Director of Military Outreach and must develop “a sustainable formal action plan to demonstrate that commitment,” according to a press release from Land O’Lakes when it achieved the designation on Aug. 6, 2018. Yellow Ribbon Companies that I have heard about in my weekly listening over time have been, in addition to Land O’Lakes, Mayo, 3M, Best Buy, Allianz, General Mills and Cargill, along with many others. One mention that I heard about Yellow Ribbon groups featured Excel Energy, and said that one out of every ten employees there is a military veteran or currently in the Reserves.

The Minnesota Military Radio shows that I have heard are not just about Yellow Ribbon companies or organizations. Last weekend’s featured a live broadcast from Camp Ripley and interviews with various people involved in keeping that place going. It was an explanation of how they provide regional training, and how the difficult logistics of their varied tasks are handled, including how and why huge military equipment is transported and cared for and the myriad activities that complicate management of such a facility. The information about the Minnesota Military Museum located at Camp Ripley was a great “teaser:” anyone listening, like me, must surely have been convinced to plan a trip there soon.

Another great recent broadcast was about the “My Life, My Story” project at the Minneapolis Veterans Administration (VA) Health Care System. Volunteers interview veterans about their experiences, the results are typed, and then not only provided to the veterans themselves, but also included in their VA hospital records to become good personal background for their healthcare providers in the future. It helps to make each patient contact very personal.

Other topics in the past have included several VA Health Care issues, The Minnesota Red Bull Reserves in Kuwait, the Patriot Guard Riders and the Minnesota Military Family Assistance program. Interested listeners can peruse the archives included at the program’s website, with broadcasts available as far back as November 2010. Judging from my experience, they are all interesting and likely also useful.

The website is at minnesotamilitaryradio.com. The program itself can be heard on weekend mornings, early, through local stations all over the state including from Rochester, Austin and Winona. I thought the website would tell me which specific stations and times, but I couldn’t find that information. So my advice to potential listeners is that I think it is the local station where you might listen to the Minnesota Twins! Because I am usually driving when listening, I haven’t written down the information.

I am still happy about the biggest thing I learned so far from listening, that I am not the only person who recognizes the value of military training and discipline, and how those traits either learned in or reinforced by military service are directly applicable to life after service.

Congratulations, veterans, and thanks for your service, which continues long after the uniform gets stored in the back of the closet.