BISMARCK - "Resiliency" was more than a buzzword at this year's Adjutant General's Symposium for Families and Youth Symposium at the Ramkota Hotel in Bismarck 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.
Submitted Photo •
Jessica Clark-Woinarowicz, left, North Dakota National Guard state youth coordinator, holds the microphone for Guard children to ask Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, N.D. adjutant general, some impromptu questions, shown in this photo by Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp. The children had the chance to ask Sprynczynatyk questions at the Adjutant General’s Symposium for Families at the Ramkota Hotel in Bismarck March 5.
"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 N.D. 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 N.D. 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 advisers and assistants.
Rob Keller, Service Member and Family Support division director, reminded attendees that the organization was entering its 10th year in the global war on terrorism and that overseas mobilizations have been commonplace for much of that time.
Some N.D. Guard stats
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,500 soldiers and more than 1,800 airmen in support of the global war on terrorism. Currently, about a dozen N.D. Guardsmen are serving overseas while more than 4,000 remain in the state for emergency response and national defense. For every 10,000 citizens in N.D., 65 serve in the N.D. National Guard, a rate that's more than four times the national average.
"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 N.D. National Guard, the video addresses how to persevere through life's challenges. A powerful component of the production is testimonials from N.D. Guardsmen and their families.
National Guard youth also had the opportunity to participate in multiple events over the weekend at the N.D. 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, N.D. 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 Sprynczynatyk a range of questions.