veteran kevin rotzienToyota Lift of Minnesota has been working to assist the veteran through veteran forklift certification and veteran employment programs. About two years ago we hired US Army tank mechanic Kevin Rotzien to work with us a service writer and IT support. Kevin has brought much to our service department and customers with his dedication and attention to detail in his position.

Not that long ago we were surprised to see that Kevin and his family received an extra boost by his local community. We wanted to share that story here.

Read the original publication through SunThisWeek

When it comes to our veteran, whether they’ve served 30 years or five years, whether they served in World War II or Iraq, there is no such thing as going overboard – even for ones who feel they don’t deserve it.

In our case, the support is overwhelming and our appreciation – boundless!

It all started in 2013 when I told my Iraq War veteran husband, Kevin, that I was pregnant. We had just moved in to our three-bedroom rambler in Lakeville a year before and began trying as soon as we paid our first mortgage. Discouraged after many months of failure, we were naturally overjoyed, but it was the calm before the storm.

In my first trimester, I contracted a severe deep vein thrombosis – a blood clot – scaling from my pelvis down to my ankle. I have a blood clotting disorder, which puts me at tremendous risks for clots in any future pregnancies. At the same time I contracted this dangerous blood clot, my husband lost his job. Like any husband (with a brand new home and a wife who was pregnant with a serious medical condition), Kevin was concerned at this stage of our lives.

veteran beyond the yellow ribbonEnter Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, Eagan – a community-wide network that seeks to proactively support and honor service members, veterans and their families. My brother-in-law, Andy, who promotes this great organization, reached out to them on our behalf. Even though we were staying afloat, members of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon reached out to us through various service projects: landscaping, mowing our yard, planting perennials, hacking away at old tree branches, trimming bushes, whatever they could do to be of service. This was an amazing encouragement, especially during my third trimester, when I was discovered to have severe preeclampsia and required an emergency C-section at 37 weeks. We were proud to announce the birth of our daughter in November 2013: Emmyleigh Faith.

Even during the winter, Beyond the Yellow Ribbon was there, from bundles of thoughtful cookies to check-up visits and snow-blowing. (Even though my husband found a new job in October, the blessing of a snow-blower during those cruel winter months was incredible.)

May 2014 was the biggest month for our modest Minnesota home. Steve from Beyond the Yellow Ribbon had contacted Home Depot in an attempt to put a team together to work on our house, garage and surrounding yard. From a cracked garage door’s pathetic rumble every time it opened to the chipped and peeling siding to a desperate need for gutters (our basement floods every time it rained) to my husband’s humble garden behind the garage, our beginnings were meager indeed, though manageable, as any military member can say that anything is manageable (especially if they’ve been in a war zone). I was in the bedroom feeding my daughter at the time Steve announced to Kevin that Home Depot was sponsoring us for a grant of over $8,000. Needless to say I broke down then and there and started crying.

More crying was to come though namely on June 26, 2014.

June 26 was the busiest day I’d ever witnessed around our house. A team of over 50 people from Yellow Ribbon and Home Depot steadfastly worked on several projects: garage painted, new sod rolled out, edging inlaid, dumpsters filled, herb boxes built, new garden created, 500 pounds of shale removed, new shed constructed, 10 yards of mulch spread for new landscaping, new deck built, stumps ground down, hammock put up, garage door and opener on its way, basement windows and gutters to be installed. Special thanks to Cayering Lawn Service of Eagan for donation of sod and for the usage of their new Bobcat, and to Nitti Sanitation of Eagan for the lightning dumpster. With the amount of people working and all the equipment they used (including semi trucks), you’d think we were on some home makeover show.

Back in 2012, when we laid eyes on our house, we wanted it. From the central location to its modest and comfy style (perfect for a couple with two children, which is our desire), we knew it was the perfect house for us. Even with the necessary garage repair and the weed-infested yard, we could see the potential. This was the house we wanted to raise our children in. This was the yard where we wanted to see them running around, scampering over a watery sprinkler head. And despite the area where the garden now flourishes was once covered in layers of brambles, trash, and tree branches, Kevin envisions puttering around in the garden, teaching his little girl how to dig the soil and plant the seeds, passing on the value of hard work he was taught growing up and in the Army. No matter how long one has served or how short, the time and experience one never loses. As a veteran, Kevin certainly has not.

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, Eagan saw something in us, too. Just an ordinary couple who had fallen on hard times, struggling against the odds and uniting together through rough waters. And they didn’t just lend a hand. They didn’t just plug a few holes in a leaky canoe. Their team is a battleship, charging through the waters, tossing out life preservers and not forgetting to hand out towels on board the ship. We hope to pay it forward by spreading the word as far and wide as we can so Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, Eagan and Team Depot can help even more veterans and military, who have sacrificed their freedom to keep others safe.

May we never forget the men and women who serve our country. May we lift up those organizations like Beyond the Yellow Ribbon and Home Depot that want to serve them back.

We would enjoy hearing from you. Post your ideas or comments below, let’s start a dialog.

For more information, insights or conversations regarding your forklift or material handling needs. You can visit our online contact form, call me at 763-315-9288 or email

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