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Northrup, Waldron honored with Voices of Veterans awards

Two Carlton County veterans received Veterans' Voices awards Sunday. Esko's Mike Waldron, a Marine Corps veteran who has worked to help fellow veterans cope with combat stress, and the late Jim Northrup, well known author, Vietnam War combat vete...

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Jim Northrup may be gone, but his presence was felt at Sunday’s Veterans’ Voices awards ceremony in St. Paul. Fellow Legacy Veterans Voices award winners gather. One of Jim’s favorite hats sits on the chair in his place. Contributed Photo

Two Carlton County veterans received Veterans’ Voices awards Sunday.

Esko’s Mike Waldron, a Marine Corps veteran who has worked to help fellow veterans cope with combat stress, and the late Jim Northrup, well known author, Vietnam War combat veteran and member of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, were honored Sunday with Veterans’ Voices awards from the Minnesota Humanities Center at a ceremony in St. Paul.

JIM NORTHRUP

Northrup passed away Aug. 1, 2016, a few days after he learned he would be receiving a “Legacy” Veterans’ Voices award, given to selected veterans ages 40 and older.

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His wife, Pat, traveled to the University of St. Thomas for the ceremony Sunday.

“I know he’d be real proud to receive the award,” Pat said. “He really felt honored to have been chosen.”

Organizers played a video of Jim Northrup reading his poetry to 25,000 veterans and their family members and supporters at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., in 2009 for the LZ Lambeau event.

“He still had them laughing,” said Pat, adding that a group of friends and supporters went to St. Paul with her, which she greatly appreciated.

“They were very important people in our lives and still are,” she said. “It was for sure a memorable occasion.”

The Minnesota Humanities Center described why Jim Northrup - a “true Anishinaabe leader and warrior” - was selected for the award as follows:

“Jim made significant contributions to his community and his country through his military service, artistic storytelling and spoken word, and traditional teachings of his native Anishinaabe nation. He was an internationally recognized and award-winning poet, writer, playwright and storyteller. His book ‘Walking the Rez Road’ includes poetry about the Vietnam War and his Anishinaabe traditions. The Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College granted him a Doctorate of Letters for his work to preserve Anishinaabe culture, traditions and language in Minnesota tribal and non-tribal communities. He also organized and coordinated, along with Pat, an Ojibwe language camp. Jim was a respected Ojibwe elder, mentor and carrier of Anishinaabe culture and language that he shares through his poems and stories.”

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MIKE WALDRON

Esko resident Mike Waldron received an “On the Rise” Veterans’ Voices award, for veterans ages 40 and younger.

Waldron said he was most excited to be nominated by Congressman Nolan for the award.

“That’s what I was most excited about,” Waldron said, adding that he doesn’t put a lot of energy into awards. “What matters to me is anything that would benefit the veterans.”

Waldron is a Marine Corps infantry veteran who served for four years and was part of the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Immediately following his service he obtained a business degree and went on to manage U.S. courthouses and federal buildings throughout the Midwest. Five years later, he started having physical symptoms that he later figured out were connected to distinct combat experiences.

After winning his battle with combat stress (also known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD), Waldron returned to college at Purdue University to grow his skills in entrepreneurship so that he could help other veterans in their battle against combat stress.

In 2015, Waldron co-launched Duluth’s chapter of Team Red, White, and Blue - a national nonprofit organization that connects veterans with civilians through physical activity and social events - since then the team has grown to 450 members who can choose from nearly 40 events every month in the Twin Ports. Last July, he gave up his career with the federal government to create and begin 23rd Veteran, a local non-profit organization that empowers veterans with PTSD to lead successful lives. His work with 23rd Veteran not only assists veterans with PTSD transition to civilian life, but provides education for the community to understand veterans returning home from war.

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“Mike has helped create a local solution to the troubling problem of veteran suicide, building a community of support that ‘brings levity and joy’ to a serious issue,” the Minnesota Humanities Center wrote.

Waldron said he was very appreciative of the award and the banquet, adding that the recognition should give 23rd Veteran more coverage which will in turn benefit more veterans.

To find out more about 23rd Veteran, visit the website at 23rdveteran.org, find them on Facebook or Instagram or attend a presentation by the group tonight, when 23rd Veteran will be giving a community education presentation about combat stress and what people can do to help veterans with PTSD Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Cloquet VFW, 210 Arch St. in West End Cloquet. Dinner starts at 6 p.m. with the presentation to follow.

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