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As Isanti County Veterans Services Director Dan Meyer prepares for his third deployment overseas, he will be carrying something near and dear to his heart, a camo fabric quilt.
But it isn’t just an ordinary camo quilt. It’s a quilt that will remind Meyer of the support he has back home in Isanti County while he’s deployed for one year, beginning in August, as a first lieutenant with the Minnesota National Guard.
The quilt was made by the Isanti County Beyond the Yellow Ribbon sewing group, led by Bob and Mary Fredell, and mailed to Meyer during his second deployment in Afghanistan in 2012 that lasted for seven months. The quilt is made of military fabric from each of the branches of the military.
“When I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, I got a surprise package that contained a quilt from Isanti County Beyond the Yellow Ribbon,” Meyer said. “I just thought it was the coolest thing in the world and everyone around me also wanted to get their hands on the same quilt. I used it during the duration of my deployment, and once I was home I continued to use it. I also have pictures of my then infant son wrapped up in the blanket as well.”
Meyer shared his story during a recent Isanti County Beyond the Yellow Ribbon meeting.
“I love his story about the quilt; there was not a dry eye in the meeting after he told the story at our last Beyond the Yellow Ribbon meeting,” said Susan Morris, a founding member of Isanti County Beyond the Yellow Ribbon and an Isanti County commissioner. “Bob and Mary Fredell were the geniuses behind that whole project. Dan is a huge asset to Isanti County veterans and our whole government structure. His leadership skills are second to none. We wish him the best and to come home safely.”
Meyer, who has served as the Isanti County Veterans Services director since May 2016, previously served as a probation agent with Isanti County for 1 1/2 years, and as a staff sergeant/special response team squad leader with the United States Marine Corps Reserves for nearly 10 years. His first deployment was to Iraq in 2008 for seven months.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2013, his master’s degree in criminal justice in 2016, and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in management and public service.
Meyer found out in early December he was officially being deployed for the third time.
“I found out that I was being transferred to a different unit that would be deploying, so the initial call was surprising, but it’s always a possibility to happen,” Meyer said. “Minnesota pretty heavily rotates with deployment, so it’s not outside of the realm of what’s to be expected.”
Meyer said everyone within his Isanti County work family has wished him well with his deployment.
“I’ve talked with Deputy County Administrator and Human Resources Director Lindsey Giese and have had several conversations with County Administrator Julia Lines, and everyone has been very supportive of me and the military in general,” Meyer said. “Everyone has been very willing to work with me so I can take July off to spend some time with my 4 1/2 year old son before I begin deployment in August.”
Meyer wants the public to know that the services provided by the Isanti County Veterans Service Office will continue as normal. He explained Veterans Services Outreach Coordinator Stacey Brown and Administrative Assistant Erin Yerigan will remain in the office to take appointments with veterans and their families.
He also mentioned that two days a week the office will house representatives from the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs to help veterans file state or federal claims and help with any other issues or answer any questions the veterans may have. The meetings with the state representatives will be by appointment only.
When Meyer returns from deployment, he will step right back into his role as Isanti County Veterans Services director.
“I will have my job waiting for me when I come back from deployment,” Meyer said. “The county has been so supportive, which really relieves the stress of when I come back.”
Meyer said when he took the position as Isanti County Veterans Service Director in May 2016, he was still getting familiar with veterans services.
“When I stepped into the position, I became very involved with Isanti County Beyond the Yellow Ribbon and I felt their support from both ends, both as a deployed solider and as the veterans services officer,” Meyer said. “They work with whoever they can to show support for our service members. They provided $24,000 in direct support last year to Isanti County’s military service members, veterans and their families. Isanti County has a very strong Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program.”
Meyer said he’s learned a lot since becoming the Isanti County Veterans Services Director.
“It’s been a very good experience and very eye-opening as far as what Veterans Affairs has to offer at the federal level and the state level,” Meyer said. “It’s made me better in the military and I can speak more intelligently with the other guys and working with the different generations of veterans. I’ve worked with World War II veterans up to those who are just getting off of active duty. There are different needs associated with each generation of veterans, and it’s nice Isanti County has one consolidated service and office to help them navigate through their different needs.”
For more information on the Isanti County Veterans Service Office, call 763-689-3591. For more information on Isanti County Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, call 763-691-4573 or visit www.beyondtheyellowribbonisanti.org.