Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Gives Thanks to Veterans


What began in 2010 as a seven-member military support ministry is now a non-profit made up of 150 veterans, active service members, and other caring individuals. Beyond the Yellow Ribbon South of the River (BTYR SOTR) based in Minnesota and chaired by Amway Independent Business Owner Dawn Buhain, supports military veterans and active service members as well as their families.

“They (returning military service members) have a hard time transitioning back home. If they don’t go to the Veterans Administration, where will they go? We’re trying to be those people they come to,” says Dawn.

In 2012, BTYR SOTR did the following:

  • partnered with Home Depot to build two homes for veterans
  • organized two major fundraisers
  • held two ice cream socials at Fort Smeling
  • sent volunteers to cook meals for veterans at Fisher House
  • participated in Veterans’ Day school programs
  • increased awareness about the mental health issues, such as PTSD, that afflict a staggering number of military service members
  • connected service members to jobs and assistance with writing résumés

“Our goal is to serve everybody that we can, but the hardest part is finding them,” notes Dawn. “Some people don’t know what they need when they’re stressed.”

Dawn, who works part-time as an anesthetist, and her family are familiar with the struggles military families face as  Dawn’s husband, Joe, served as a combat medic in Iraq and Afghanistan. “For me, when my husband was deployed, everyone at Amway was so wonderful and supportive. We don’t have any other family members living in the area, but they were like family to us,” shares Dawn. “We don’t want people to feel alone when their loved ones are serving overseas.”

Volunteers of BTYR SOTR are encouraged to contribute in any way they choose. “If you want to help, we’ll figure out a way for you to help. Our organization is great because we do so many different things,” says Dawn. “We had homeless veterans telling us that they get cold during the  winter months, so we decided to knit hats for them. Many of our volunteers didn’t know how to knit, so we had a woman who owns a local yarn shop teach them how.”

On February 23rd of 2012, BYTR SOTR was presented with a Star of the North Congressional Award, given to those who have demonstrated selfless acts of kindness and generosity.  The group was nominated for helping a military service member finish a home construction project after his deployment was moved up and he ran out of time to complete the project.

“It’s the least we can do as far as I’m concerned,” says Dawn. “Helping them is our way of saying ‘thanks.’”

For more information about BYTR SOTR:

More photos on Flickr:

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