A member of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) team recently received the “Community Heroes Award” from the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) of Minnesota. The recipient, Mike McElhiney, is a combat-wounded Army Veteran with more than 21 years of service. The award was presented at the DAV event which recognized and celebrated the Twin Cities’ Community of Heroes sm. The DAV recognized McElhiney for his service alongside two community business leaders.
Marc Burgess (right) DAV CEO and National Adjutant presents “Community Heroes Award” to Mike McElhiney.
Even though McElhiney is retired from active duty, he still continues to actively support Veterans through his work at MDVA where he serves as the Legislative Director. DAV State Adjutant Stephen Whitehead said at the event: “Mike was a hero in serving his Country and remains a hero to the DAV and the Veterans community as he fights for legislation aimed at providing benefits and protection of benefits and services to Veterans here in the State of Minnesota.”
The purpose of DAV’s Community of Heroes events is to pay tribute to local men and women who served and say thank you to communities for supporting local heroes during their difficult transition to civilian life. Many Veterans continue their service long after they leave the military and that service can be seen in communities across the state of Minnesota.
McElhiney began his military career in the Army infantry in 1989. In 1994, after successful selection for the Army’s Special Forces, he was trained as a Weapons Sergeant. He went on to attend Airborne School and the Persian Farsi Language School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. After completing his training, Mike was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he served as a Weapons Sergeant with the Operational Detachment Alpha’s (ODA) 573 and 574.
Shortly after the attacks on 9/11, McElhiney deployed with his detachment to Afghanistan at the start of Operation Enduring Freedom. His team was the first to infiltrate southern Afghanistan and they were responsible for bringing the current president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, to country and leading the insurgency in the southern providences of Afghanistan. Three members of his unit and dozens of friendly Afghan fighters were killed in a battle north of Kandahar Dec. 5, 2001. McElhiney and other members of his team were severely wounded. McElhiney suffered several injuries that day, including the loss of his right arm. With the support of his family and friends McElhiney underwent rehabilitation and began the transition back into civilian life. McElhiney chose a career that allowed him to give back and help other Veterans.
Also recognized at the event were business owner’s Curt and Pam Karls who own Marantellis Pizza and are the founders and coordinators of the OLD GLORY 5K Run/walk held each spring in Cold Spring.
MDVA and the DAV salute all the Veteran heroes who continue to serve in their communities across the state.