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Another creative idea from Farmington, Minn.

Annette Kuyper is lead organizer of the Farmington Warrior to Citizen group, "a diverse group of citizens dedicated to engaging local communities by organizing family support, providing community education, and recognizing service members and their families." Farmington is one of several communities with Warrior to Citizen groups, and provides creative examples of what citizens can do to support military families and returning veterans.

Read an update from Kuyper below about an event organized for military families to ask questions about home security and sign up for extra police patrols.

We had a great Military Family Night at the police department last night. More than 20 people showed up and several signed up for the May 9 family day picnic. Lisa Sammlar, a member of the Warrior to Citizen group, dressed up as McGruff the Crime Dog, and a real dog from the canine unit demonstrated an attack on a police officer. That was a big highlight, plus the jail is interesting for people to see. Several of the officers were there to give tours.

crime-biter.jpg

John and Paige Quist served beautiful cookies they made shaped like police cars, and we had a prize drawing for two bike helmets donated by the Apple Valley Target store. Lisa Sammlar asked Target to make the in-kind donation and will arrange for police officers to deliver the helmets to the winners.

One big success was meeting a family that we did not know about whose soldier is leaving this Sunday. The mom started crying when I told her about some of the things the Farmington Warrior to Citizen group does and how we can help her. I have her on my list now and will routinely be checking in with her. She has three children and did not know anything about us so we still have work to do to be out in the community!

Two other families who are on my mailing list attended a Warrior to Citizen community event for the first time, so what we are doing [to reduce isolation] is working.

I will be approaching the Police Chief about hosting this event every year. I am creating a book for the things we do that are recurring so we can learn each year what worked and did not work.

Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs