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Hastings VFW post earns national award

The Hastings VFW Post 1210 has received the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Award of Merit.

"It's a pretty big honor to be selected for a merit award," said post commander Bob Clark.

The VFW Community Activities National Awards Program for Special Projects is designed to reward VFW posts, county councils, districts and departments for unique and outstanding community service projects that are over and above what is expected of VFW units.

In Hastings' case, the award was given for their participation in the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program. The post was specifically cited for establishing a community-wide network of support for service members, veterans and their families. It provided access to useful information and services to assist military families during and after deployments.

There are two parts to the post's efforts. The first is in supporting its 273 members.

"One of the big things within the post is comradeship," service officer Dean Markuson said.

Markuson was the driving force behind the program at the local level. It was in part Markuson's documentation of their activities that they received the award, Clark said.

The second part is the post's involvement in the community. They support the rifle squad and memorial squad to honor deceased veterans, and the post also supports other organizations that support veterans, such as Quilts for Valor, the Hastings Veterans Home, Hastings Family Service and others. They also reach out to local youth with programs such as Patriot Pen and Voice for Democracy.

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon doesn't stop with the VFW post. It's a project that the whole city has taken part in. For the work put into the effort, the Minnesota State Legislature signed a resolution naming Hastings a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon community.

Hastings will also be represented Sept. 22 in Farmington at a special Beyond the Yellow Ribbon training event with leaders from about 80 communities.