During a live recording of Minnesota Military Radio a weekly public affairs show, host Tom Lyons received a very special surprise. Maj. General Richard Nash, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard presented Lyons with the highest award given to a civilian, the Minnesota Superior Civilian Service Medal. Over the last five years, Lyons has volunteered his time to host the show and has displayed great dedication to telling the stories of our state's more than 369,000 Veterans and 13,000 citizen Soldiers and Airmen. To hear Tom’s live reaction to the award and to listen to other podcasts visit: http://minnesotamilitaryradiohour.com/20160103/.
Left: Silver Bay Veterans Home Staff, Commissioner Larry Shellito and Lt. Governor Tina Smith. Right: Interagency Council on Homelessness members, Commissioner Larry Shellito and Lt. Governor Tina Smith. (Photo credit: Office of Governor Mark Dayton & Lt. Governor Tina Smith)
The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) was recently recognized by the Governor for the fifth time in six years with the Governor’s Continuous Improvement Award presented by the Governor’s office and the Better Government for a Better Minnesota initiative. This award recognizes significant organizational achievements across Minnesota government. MDVA, provided by the staff at the Minnesota Veterans Home—Silver Bay, created a program called Reducing Psychotropic Medication in Special Care and Skilled Care Households and has implemented it with amazing success.
Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Larry Shellito and his wife Evonne visited with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Croatian Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia General Drago Lovrić in St. Paul on Jan. 4. As part of her working visit to the U.S. Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic also met with Governor Dayton and the Minnesota National Guard to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Minnesota-Croatia State Partnership Program.
Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness joined 10 Minnesota Mayors and public leaders around the country in committing to end Veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. Minnesota’s progress on this goal – and the nation’s as a whole – will be measured by the annual Point-in-Time count held each January to identify and count people experiencing homelessness. The next Point-in-Time count will occur on January 28, 2016.
While we await results from the 2016 Point-in-Time count, Minnesota has a good handle on our progress to date and the challenge remaining to reach the end of Veteran homelessness, thanks to the Minnesota Homeless Veteran Registry. During last year’s Point-in-Time count, we identified 297 Veterans statewide, as part of the largest push to identify Veterans ever conducted. Since then, 23 Veterans we identified have left the state or become incarcerated. In one tragic case, a Veteran on the Registry died before he was housed. The most important news is this: we’ve housed 339 homeless Veterans since January 2015. As a measure of progress, it is significant that more Veterans have been housed to date than were originally identified in the 2015 Point-in-Time count.
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.
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 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.