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From the Desk of the Commissioner - February

Posted on February 01, 2016 at 1:00 PM
Tags: Commissioner, Events

Commissioner Shellito 2015Activity at MDVA has been relatively quiet. Activity with the legislature and Governor’s office, for MDVA, has been relatively quiet also. The Minneapolis Veterans Home has been fully funded, and we are ready to begin construction on the third and final phase.
Our office activity has focused primarily in the area of key personnel moves. Brad Lindsay has been serving as Acting Deputy Commissioner of Programs and Services for the past year. He has recently accepted the official position of Deputy Commissioner. A win for Veterans and the agency!

We have also created a new position within the agency for a “Chief of Staff.” This has been filled by Mike McElhiney, who served as our Legislative Director for the past five years. Mike’s primary mission is to ensure all the key supporting functions – finance, personnel, etc. – are in sync in supporting our two separate divisions of Program and Services and the Veterans Homes.

2015: A Year of Operating with Diversity

Posted on January 05, 2016 at 3:44 PM
Author: Eric Grumdahl & Blake Rondeau - MDVA Tags: Benefits, Claims, Outreach, Events

The New Year is here and the Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs (MDVA) has many programs and projects that are in full stride all over the state. In 2015 MDVA saw great results in many of the more diverse areas of the Veteran community such as Women Veterans, Tribal Veterans, and Homeless Veterans. The individuals who make up these groups raised their hands to serve our country, and thus deserve access to support services and programs they have earned. A few achievements are listed below; MDVA encourages all Veterans and their families to continually follow the events and opportunities listed on to bring an even bigger presence of diversity and prosperity into 2016.

St. Thomas Vets Club Brings Christmas Cheer

Posted on December 17, 2015 at 9:10 AM
Author: Blake Rondeau - MDVA Tags: Events, General, Minnesota Veterans Homes, Minneapolis Veterans Home

St-Thomas-Vets-Blog On Dec. 5, 2015 the Minneapolis Veterans Home was filled with holiday cheer. The day before St. Nicholas Day was one that was buzzing with Veterans young and old teeming to decorate the 3rd floor common areas and hallways with some seasonal décor. Residents of the Home came into the halls to see what the noise was and found 12 strapping young Veterans, arms filled with boxes, who had come to volunteer their time to these Residents that would be spending their holidays staying at the Home.

The University of St. Thomas’ Veterans Club had come to visit and got started immediately by unraveling garland across the ceiling and around the welcome desks, gift wrapping picture frames and topping them with bows, spreading lights around Christmas trees and, most importantly, talking Veteran to Veteran with the Residents of the Minneapolis Home.  

Transforming the Home into a holiday environment was, at first, very cosmetic, but soon the halls were alive with chatter as Residents lent a hand to decorate or give advice on hanging lights and the seasonal spirit awoke. Everyone involved started to feel good and thankful: the Residents for the volunteers and the volunteers for the Residents.

First Burial in Preston

Posted on December 17, 2015 at 8:49 AM
Author: Blake Rondeau - MDVA Tags: State Veterans Cemetery, Events

This Veterans Day, was an especially memorable for the families of Earl Hoff and Clarence Quanrud. Two Minnesota Veterans that both served in the Korean War, and as mayor of Preston, Minnesota where this Veterans Day they became the first Veterans laid to rest in Preston’s newly-opened State Veterans cemetery.

The Chosin Few: Korean Veterans Remembered After 65 Years

Posted on December 10, 2015 at 12:40 PM
Author: Blake Rondeau - MDVA Tags: General, Events

Chosin-Few-MarinesThe official State of Minnesota Veterans Day celebration, held at the Veteran Memorial Community Center in Inver Grove Heights on the 11th of November was attended by many Veterans from across the state and representing a wide varieties of conflicts. 

One group in particular stood out as two older Marines walked into the Center wearing ice-blue jackets that read, “The Chosin Few.” Being a Marine myself, knowing the history of the Marine Corps’ battles; what happened in Korea, especially in the Chosin Reservoir, made this sight an awe-inspiring experience. I didn’t want to immediately bombard them with conversation, so I held back while they helped themselves to the breakfast buffet and made their way to their seats.

Desk of the Commissioner - November

Posted on November 23, 2015 at 2:29 PM
Tags: Events, Commissioner

Commissioner Shellito 2015November has proven to be an exceptional month this year. Most significant was the Veterans Day celebration held in Inver Grove Heights. This event is the official State Veterans Day site and the event was the best attended I have seen for many years. The morning breakfast was great, the speakers were insightful, and the inclusion of elementary school youth singing the service songs and reading essays about Veterans made the day truly special. They all added a unique dimension to the importance and contributions our Veterans have made in the defense of our country. In short, I was very proud of what I experienced that day.

Minnesota Veterans Day Event 2015

Posted on November 18, 2015 at 2:47 PM
Author: Blake Rondeau - MDVA Tags: Events

Veterans Day photoVeterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015 was a tribute to all Veterans, those still serving throughout OIF/OEF operations to those who have served in America’s past wars: those remembering the 25th anniversary of the start of the Gulf War, 40th anniversary of the ending of the Vietnam War, 65th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, and the 97th remembrance of the ending of the First World War.

There is a lot to remember and a lot more to be thankful for. These brave men and women have served their country in times of need not to be recognized one day out of the year, but to have the opportunity to enjoy every day in a free country with friends and family.

Upper Post Veterans Community Ribbon Cutting

Posted on October 09, 2015 at 12:00 PM
Tags: Events, Families, Outreach

CommonBond-Studio-resizedOn Friday, Oct. 2, CommonBond Communities held a ribbon cutting ceremony for their new Upper Post affordable-housing community for homeless Veterans at Fort Snelling. Five historic structures were transformed into 58 units of affordable housing. This new housing opportunity features studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments along with support services for homeless Veterans and their families.

The ceremony included remarks from Deidre Schmidt, President and CEO of CommonBond Communities, Mary Tingerthal, Commissioner of Minnesota Housing, Warren Hanson, President and CEO of the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund/MN Equity Fund, Tom Wiffler, COO of UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans, Dave St. Peter, President of the Minnesota Twins, Patrick Kelly, Executive Director of the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, U.S. Representative Erik Paulsen, and Residents and Veterans Austin Poons and Judy Ganino. 

Desk of the Commissioner - July

Posted on July 29, 2015 at 8:58 AM
Tags: Commissioner, State Veterans Cemetery, Events

July was an active month beginning with Honoring Veteran Day at Target Field.  As guests of the Minnesota Twins, the nine Veteran Service Organizations in Minnesota were asked to have their leadership occupy the various positions on the field. With the bases covered, the sidelines were filled with military re-enactors in full wool uniforms, currently serving military and the National Guard unfolding the American flag for the national anthem.  To top it off, a flyover by World War II era planes brought the stadium to its feet.  It was an environment that excited all.  One could sense the pride of all the Veterans assembled, whether they were on the field or in the stands. I personally want to thank the Minnesota Twins organization for their inclusion of our Veterans as a part of their Fourth of July celebration, and in particular honoring the Veterans who served this great country.

Photo by  Staff Sgt. Patrick Loch, Minnesota National Guard.

Photo by Tech Sgt. Paul Santikko. 

Desk of the Commissioner - May

Posted on May 19, 2015 at 2:20 PM
Tags: Commissioner, Families, Events

Commissioner Shellito 2015Memorial Day is fast approaching and I have been given the special honor of delivering the keynote address at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery Memorial Day event. The Fort Snelling remembrance has always been a key event within Minnesota.  As I prepare my comments, I am filled with a flood of memories, both good and sad. From my experiences while deployed to Vietnam as a young Infantryman – to my responsibility as Adjutant General in deploying young men and women to Afghanistan and Iraq, I am reminded that Minnesota is truly blessed to have a generation of citizen-soldiers willing to answer our nation’s call to service.

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