News: Weekend Events Attract Military Families
Story by Senior Master Sgt. David Lipp
BISMARCK, N.D. - "Resiliency" was more than a buzzword at this year's Adjutant General's Symposium for Families and Youth Symposium at the Ramkota Hotel, Bismarck, N.D., March 4-6. It was also a theme for discussion amongst Guardsmen and their families throughout the weekend.
More than 100 family members joined North Dakota soldiers and airmen during the Guard's annual Professional Development Weekend. The 2011 Adjutant General's Symposium for Families and Youth Symposium ran concurrently with the organization's Professional Development Workshop.
Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, welcomed attendees by thanking them for their support throughout the organization's array of missions during the past decade.
"We're extremely grateful for your attendance this weekend. As I've stated before, taking care of Soldiers and Airmen is my No. 1 priority," he said.
"Part of doing that is taking care of you, their families, as well."
Sprynczynatyk pointed out that the Military Service Center, or MSC, in Bismarck has been a giant stepping stone in supporting the Guard Family and is the first of its kind in the National Guard. The MSC, which opened in January 2009, is a building leased by the North Dakota National Guard that serves as a comprehensive location for a vast assortment of services to veterans of any era or military branch, current military members and their families. It also houses the majority of members of the North Dakota National Guard's Service Member and Family Support division. The group is comprised of 37 employees across the state including social workers, chaplains and professional advisors and assistants.
Rob Keller, Service Member and Family Support division director, reminded attendees that the organization was entering its tenth year in the Global War on Terrorism and that overseas mobilizations have been commonplace for much of that time.
"This is the new normal in which we are operating," he said. "This weekend, we primarily want to recognize our families for the sacrifices they have made. We also want to build on resiliency, which is not just a word, but also is a skill."
Attendees heard from a variety of speakers - most of whom talked about resiliency, overcoming adversity, and staying strong through challenges by maintaining a positive attitude. They also promoted healthy lifestyles.
A portion of Saturday afternoon was spent viewing a 30-minute DVD titled "We're in this Together." Produced by Kat Communications in Bismarck with the North Dakota National Guard, the video addresses how to persevere through life's challenges. A powerful component of the production is testimonials from North Dakota Guardsmen and their families.
National Guard youth also had the opportunity to participate in multiple events over the weekend at the North Dakota National Guard's Youth Symposium. Children of military members were invited to attend presentations from national motivational speakers and collaborate with military youths from across the state.
"The Youth Symposium is a chance for our youths to interact in a fun environment and also foster their leadership skills, develop awareness of programs and resources, and build a sense of belonging within the National Guard," said Jessica Clark-Woinarowicz, North Dakota National Guard state youth coordinator.
Some of the military children took the stage at the Adjutant General's Symposium for Families, where they had a chance to ask Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk a range of questions. See Sprynczynatyk's responses by viewing video at the North Dakota National Guard YouTube site.