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Family preparation academy for military families set this weekend 

Nearly 1,700 military family members will assemble at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd for a Family Preparation Academy. The Family Preparation Academy is a one-day program designed to empower and resource service members, their spouses, parents, significant others and children to address the effects of combat operational stress and general issues prior to deploying.

There will be two events running from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Special attention will be paid to children of deploying service members. Families will have a chance to build a hero bear with their young children between 2:30-4 p.m. each day. The bear is designed  to help comfort the child during the deployment while their parent is gone. 

Families will learn about many youth development programs designed specifically for the families:

• Free child care and child care provided by the Minnesota Child Care Resource and Referral Network.

• Subsidy programs by the National Association of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies.

• Operation Military Kids and Operation Purple Summer Camp, which help children understand and prepare for the deployment.

• Children will connect with others their age going through deployment

• Military teens aligned with a battle buddy to share the deployment experience with, in addition to learning about resources for youth.

• Growing a marriage while separated by deployment.

• How parents of service members can cope during deployment and be involved.

• Handling finances during the deployment.

The following units will attend this weekend’s event: On Saturday will be First Battalion, 194th Combat Arms Battalion, Headquarters and Headquarters Company in Brainerd; C Company in Sauk Centre; and D Company in St. Cloud; Sunday will be First Battalion, 194th Combat Arms Battalion, A Company in St. Cloud, B Company in St. Paul and 134th Brigade Support Battalion in Camp Ripley.

The local community will be at the event in support of military families both days. A Brainerd photographer has reached out to his network to ensure families are provided an opportunity to get a family photo taken at the event.  

For more information about Beyond the Yellow Ribbon go to

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon kickoff planned Monday

The Minnesota National Guard office in Brainerd will host a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon community kickoff event for the Brainerd area at 6 p.m. Monday in the cafeteria at Central Lakes College in Brainerd.  

At the kick-off, the program will be unveiled to the community. The program brings services in the community together including organizations, employers, agencies and resources to proactively support soldiers and their families.

So far 27 cities have been proclaimed Yellow Ribbon cities.