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Dave Olson, Published August 06 2012

Event honors military, employers

FARGO – North Dakota boasts more than 57,000 veterans, the highest number per capita of any state.

One more statistic: With nearly seven out of every 1,000 residents serving in the Army National Guard, North Dakota leads the states in that category, too.

And rarely, said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard, do those Guard members run into problems with their employers.

“This is the reason for our success,” Sprynczynatyk said Monday during a luncheon in Fargo sponsored by the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.

The inaugural “State of the Military” event was a chance for chamber members to thank those serving in the armed forces, as well as an opportunity for community members to hear how the military is doing.

Sprynczynatyk said certain missions, like the North Dakota Air National Guard’s guiding of pilotless drones in places like Afghanistan, will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

But the military in general, he said, will face crippling consequences if Congress doesn’t come up with a way to handle the federal deficit before mandatory across-the-board cuts kick in. If the so-called sequestration happens, “it’s going to be devastating to our nation’s military,” Sprynczynatyk said.

Monday’s event was part of the chamber’s revamped military affairs program, which aims to improve support for those serving in the armed forces.

Chamber President and CEO Craig Whitney said it was impossible to repay the men and women of the military for their leadership and service, but he said chamber members can play a pivotal role in supporting their efforts.

Sprynczynatyk reminded audience members that 12 members of the North Dakota National Guard have died in the global war on terror, and he said the state has more than 12,000 soldiers and airmen on active duty or serving in the National Guard and Reserves.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555