April is the “Month of the Military Child.” The focus is on the impact of extensive deployments placed on our military families. While the focus is on the child, I want to focus specifically on the spouse.
Ever since 9/11/01 Minnesota has sent its sons and daughters to all corners of the world. Minnesotans have responded through such avenues as the Beyond the Yellow Programs, random acts of kindness, and genuine concern. The families have been resilient and collectively supported one another also during the trying times of deployments.
The first Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military award for valor in action against an enemy force, was presented on March 25, 1863. The United States Congress designated March 25 of each year as the National Medal of Honor Day. Governor Mark Dayton also will proclaim March 25 as Medal of Honor Day in the State of Minnesota.
Since the Civil War, brave men and women from the state of Minnesota have answered the call to defend and protect the freedoms we hold dear and several have gone beyond this call to duty, risking injury and loss of life. Medal of Honor recipients have distinguished themselves from others at the risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty by courage and intrepidity. According to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society there have been 3,463 recipients of the Medal of Honor.
A plaque located in the Court of Honor at the Minnesota State Capitol Grounds serves as a permanent marker to honor the 56 Medal of Honor recipients associated with the State of Minnesota who have shown great bravery in defense of our country.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that Building 19 on the Minneapolis Veterans Home Campus is now certified to receive Medicaid and Medicare funds. This is the first CMS certification in the Minnesota Veterans Home system.
“I am very proud of the dedication by staff - on every level - who worked to achieve this goal. This certification not only reflects the high quality care we provide our Veterans, but it also represents our commitment to financial responsibility and future planning,” said Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Larry Shellito.
It is hard to believe March is already upon us. The State Legislative Session is in full swing, and this week the Commander’s Task Force held their annual Veterans Day on the Hill event. This is a day when Veterans and families around the state unite on the issues that are most important in 2014.
I want to thank the Governor, the Legislature, and all our elected officials for their ongoing support of Veterans in this state. I am proud that Minnesota is one of the most Veteran-friendly states in the nation, but we cannot rest or become complacent. In fact, I believe that here at MDVA one of our greatest strengths is our ability to anticipate and encourage change. This willingness to find new and better ways to serve Minnesota Veterans and their families was evident over this last year as we provided relief to Veterans through special needs grants to help keep them in their homes, opened the nation’s second Veteran focused Adult Day Center, explored new ways of outreach, launched an award-winning website, and made education more accessible to the Veterans who need it most. This might sound like an impressive list, but I can assure you we still have more work to do!
An innovative therapy which involves controlling rapid eye movements during times of stress has been shown to help clients reprocess and desensitize disturbing memories and experiences to relieve the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). According to Elaine Wynne, EMDR Certified Therapist and Approved Consultant for the Trauma Recovery EMDR HAP Veteran Resilience Project of Minnesota, not only is it evidence based therapy for trauma, it has been successfully used to treat many other stress related conditions like phobias, grief, and phantom limb pain.
February is designated Black History Month, a month in which we reflect on the great contributions made by this community of heroes. I want to especially thank someone who played a transformational role in my life. Let me explain!
As a young, naive Lieutenant in Vietnam, I ‘commanded’ a five-man team of Advisors. We lived with the Vietnamese and supported their Popular and Regional Forces. One of my team members was named Hindu, an African American E7, Special Operations Forces qualified, Infantryman. Being from Northern Minnesota, not an area known for diversity, my experience with African Americans was limited. I was blessed to have gotten to know Hindu. On evening nights when all was quiet, we would talk. As time went on, Hindu would open up a little more and share some of his experiences as a young African American man growing up in Mississippi. Not something we as a nation could be proud of! Hindu taught me more during these evening talks than I ever would gain in a ‘diversity seminar.’ Thank you Hindu for being a part of my life, and I think of you as well as Mazz, Ketchum, and Bent!
The family of a Veteran killed in action during the Korean War was presented with a Purple Heart Medal thought to be lost for decades. Commissioner Larry Shellito with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs presented the medal to family members during a small ceremony Wednesday, Jan. 29 at 1 p.m.
Gerry Falkowski, the coordinator for the Disabled American Veterans of Minnesota (DAV) Donor Connection Program, recently received a Certificate of Recognition on behalf of Governor Mark Dayton for his dedicated service to the program. The MN Donor Connection Program works to connect Minnesotans looking to donate medical equipment with Veterans in need. Falkowski has been the vital link between linking this equipment and Minnesota Veterans in need.