Veterans Day: Expressing Gratitude

By Sara Croymans, Extension Educator, Family Resiliency

November 2019

Veterans Day is just around the corner.  This day was first established in November 1919 by President Wilson when he proclaimed November 11 as Armistice Day. It officially became a legal holiday in 1938 to honor veterans of World War I. Following WWII, at the urging of veteran service organizations, President Eisenhower changed the day in 1954 to “Veterans Day” to honor American veterans from all wars (U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs).

U.S. and Minnesota Military Stats

MN Military StatsThe United States has over two million Service members (Demographic Profile of the Military Community, 2017). According to the Community Readiness Open Data Dashboard (2018) Minnesota is home to 332,786 Active Duty, Guard and Reserve Service members, and Veterans.  Stevens County is home to an estimated 48 Reserve & Guard Service members and an estimated 557 Veterans. (See reference and passcode below to seek out other county data.)

Military Families Learning Network

In 2015 the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development became involved with the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN), providing leadership for the Family Transitions (FT) concentration area. MFLN connects military family service providers, Cooperative Extension professionals, and others serving military families with research and one another through engaging online learning opportunities (webinars, podcasts, blogs, social media, etc.) to better serve military Service members and their families. The Family Transitions team provides education and resources for professionals to help military families build resilience and navigate life cycle transitions. Our goal is for military families to increase their self-reliance and navigate each transition more successfully than the last. 

Other MFLN concentration areas include: Community Capacity Building, Family Development & Early Intervention. Military Caregiving, Network Literacy, Nutrition and Wellness, and Personal Finance. In 2018 MFLN had over 6,300 professionals participating in forty webinars and two Virtual conferences. Most of the webinars offer professionals free Continuing Education credits. MFLN is a collaborative project between the U.S. Department of Defense and Cooperative Extension. In addition to Extension faculty from the University of Minnesota, faculty  from these institutions are involved: NDSU Extension Service, Cornell, Valdosta State University (Georgia), University of Illinois, Texas A & M AgriLife Extension Service, West Virginia University, University of Wisconsin Extension, University of Florida, Rutgers University, Auburn University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and Texas A & M University.

'Military Family' Means 'My Family'

I am passionate about providing support for military families because my family is a military family. My husband, David, served 22.5 years with the South Dakota National Guard as a truck driver with the 740th Transportation Company out of Milbank, SD. Our family experienced two deployments – Operation Desert Storm (1990-91) and Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (2003-04). Our daughter, Kristen, serves as a 2nd Lieutenant with the Nebraska National Guard.  Her spouse, Jared, is currently in the SD National Guard Inactive Reserve after several years as an Active Duty Marine and National Guard Soldier. Our youngest son, Jesse, is a Specialist with the SD National Guard 740th Transportation Unit. Our family has experienced firsthand the challenges and joys of serving our country.

Staff Sergeant David Croymans      2nd Lieutenant Kristen Coats      Specialist Jesse Croymans

Left to Right: Staff Sergeant David Croymans during 2003-04 deployment, 2nd Lieutenant Kristen (Croymans) Eslick Coasts pictured with her son Luke, and Specialist Jesse Croymans enjoying a cup of coffee before early morning physical fitness training during weekend Guard drill.

Learn More and Get Involved

How about you? Does anyone in your family serve in the military? Whether you are related to a military Service member or not, I encourage you to acknowledge Veterans Day. Here are some options:

 Service members and their families are known to be resilient, but face many unique challenges related to military life. As you pause to reflect on Veterans Day, take time to remember the thousands of service members who are committed to serving this country, just as we are committed to serving Minnesota families.


This article was written by Sara Croymans, MEd, AFC, University of Minnesota Extension Educator, Family Resiliency, member of the MFLN Family Transitions team, military spouse and mother. She can be reached at or 320-226-6052.

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