NEW ULM - With 1-125th Field Artillery troops back home from wartime deployments, the National Guard Citizens Committee and Beyond The Yellow Ribbon of Brown County organizations were given the option of disbanding Monday night.
Nobody voiced any interest in discontinuing the organizations at a meeting at the New Ulm Armory.
"We see a drop-off in soldiers needs, but it's up to you what to do with the Citizens Committee and BTYR," said Capt. Michael S. Graves. "Everything you did for us doing deployment was very well received. I can't thank you enough. Are the organizations still needed? Maybe, maybe not."
Margaret Schimmele, a BTYR member, said a number of local churches contacted her about soldiers and their families who may need help.
"I'm a member of both organizations. I think they're both very important and work very well together," said Dave Borchert.
Patrick Holmes said both organizations feed off each other.
Dennis Maday, chairman of the Region 5 Employer Support of the Guard & Reserve, suggested members of the organizations attend National Guard drill weekends and ask soldiers what they need.
In other BTYR activities, the Brown County group will host a public beer/wine tasting event from 6:30 to 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 19 at the New Ulm Armory. Advance sales are $20 at CashWise and Brown County American Legion clubs. Soldiers and their families will get discounts.
Schimmele said the event raised more than $3,000 last year. She suggested proceeds be used to fund the BTYR Scholarship Program for the children of military members.
The organizations are planning a welcome home event for deployed soldiers at 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 21 at the armory.
The BTYR of Brown County plans to take part in the United Way Day of Caring, Saturday, Oct. 13 by doing household chores for a veteran's family.
Paul Severson of the BTYR of Brown County said a New Ulm Medical Center employee team is interested in working with the military and veterans.
In another matter, Graves said the Minnesota National Guard (MNG) Facilities Management Office put a $12 million project to build a new armory on a larger site in New Ulm back on the planning list. Construction would take place in 2020 with completion in 2021.
"Everybody loves this (New Ulm Armory) building, but it's the second-oldest armory in the state and can only handle half of what is needed," Graves said. "The good news is the MNG wants to keep the armory in New Ulm. The Minnesota Adjutant General loves New Ulm and sees what the community and area does for the battalion."
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org).