Commander Terri Winter is the first female commander of the almost entirely male Fort Snelling Memorial Rifle Squad. She was elected unanimously by her squad. Though she describes the feeling of her election as “absolutely incredible,” Winter does not deny that there have been difficulties. She had not realized how groundbreaking her election was for future generations until her phone started ringing off the hook, “After breaking that glass ceiling, I am just starting to see the struggles that our daughters, nieces, and granddaughters will have to struggle with.”
Construction for the Southeast Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery is nearly complete. The expected completion for the Cemetery is scheduled for fall 2015. Since construction began in October, 2013, much of the Cemetery has been successfully finished while the rest is well on its way. According to Minnesota State Veterans Cemeteries Director, David P. Swantek, to date 80 percent of the overall project is already done. General earthwork, roadways, and installation of utilities and pre-placed crypts for casket burials has been completed. Cemetery buildings, final site work, irrigation system installation, and landscaping are all that remain.
Four years ago I was given the honor of serving Veterans as Minnesota’s Commissioner of Veterans Affairs. This came after completing seven years as the states adjutant general during extensive mobilizations as our nation fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. The importance of caring for our Veterans was branded in my heart and mind as we sent a newer generation off to battle. It is with that preface that I feel proud of the accomplishments made by the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs these past four years.
Christmas presents for all 341 Residents of the Minneapolis Veterans Home were delivered in December as part of the annual Adopt-a-Vet program.
The program allows participants to “adopt” a Veteran to buy gifts for during the holiday season. The Minneapolis Home sends its sincere appreciation to the groups listed, for bringing joy to those living at the Minneapolis Veterans Home. If you, or an organization you know is interested in participating next season, please contact Minneapolis Veterans Home Public Affairs Director Sandy Larson at (612) 548-5993.
The State Benefits Division within the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) is most known for its administration of the State Soldiers Assistance Program. This program administers eight program activities that deliver much needed benefits and services to Minnesota Veterans and their families in times when they need it most. Our team works tirelessly to provide Veterans and their families with benefits and services ranging from routine dental care; grants for housing to include, stabilization, attainment, and repairs; and tuition waivers to Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.
December 7, 1941, is a day in which our nation reflects on the catastrophic impact of being attacked and forced into war. December 7 has always been a day of remembrance. This year it is taken on a personal tone. In mid-November, my wife and I chose to take our daughters, son-in-law, and three grandchildren on a winter holiday to Hawaii. We stayed in Honolulu to enjoy a week’s worth of sunshine and relaxation. Having been there before, we also wanted to show our grandchildren the sites of the island. It was our visit to Pearl Harbor that I wish to focus this message.
Today Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Larry Shellito presented Reverend Richard L. Jenkins, Sr., and Mrs. Vivian Jenkins Nelsen with the President’s Lifetime Volunteer Call to Service Award. This award is a national honor in recognition of over 20,000 hours each of volunteer service to America.
Veterans Day is the day we pay special tribute to all Veterans who served this great nation. This became clear to me as my wife and I took our grandsons, ages 10 and 8, to Washington D.C. We visited most of the ‘must see’ sights but most importantly the Veteran Memorials and Arlington Cemetery. Walking the grounds of Arlington clearly magnified the sacrifices made and the importance of honoring our Veterans.
The snow and Minnesota winter weather didn’t stop a crowd of nearly 500 Minnesotans from attending the State of Minnesota Veterans Day Program to honor and celebrate generations of Minnesota’s Veterans. The event was held Nov. 11, 2014 at the Veterans Memorial Community Center in Inver Grove Heights.