Minnesota Veteran - January

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Desk of the Commissioner - January

Commissioner Shellito

The 2017 legislative session is in full swing. The activity at the capitol is robust, with hearings and meetings happening continuously.  I anticipate a very interesting year for the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs.  Many of our past objectives have been addressed and we are now in the continuous improvement phase.  The following are a series of initiatives that the Department is pursuing and feel have sufficient support of key leadership.

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Minnesota Veterans Homes: 130 Years of Service

Minneapolis 130 Years

The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) assists Minnesota’s over 360,000 Veterans and their dependents to obtain the benefits and services provided by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. MDVA was established by the Minnesota Legislature in 1943 in order to consolidate and strengthen services provided to Veterans and their families during the height of World War II.

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Minnesota Veterans Home – Luverne Recognized for State Government Innovation

Luverne Award

On January 30, 2017 MDVA’s Luverne Veterans Home was awarded the Better Government Award for “Great Customer Service” for Enhancing Residents Lives Through Music and Memory. The Dayton-Smith Administration has made improving the customer service provided by state government a priority over the past six years. 

Background on Enhancing the Lives of Veterans Home Residents. Research shows that approximately 50 percent of long-term care facility Residents do not regularly have visitors, while 68 percent sit in silence for extended periods of time. To improve the quality of life enjoyed by Residents, the Minnesota Veterans Home – Luverne implemented a Music and Memory program to engage Residents with memory loss with playlists customized to their particular interests and memories. The facility also provides dual headphones that allow Residents to listen together, making it a group activity. Veterans participating in the Music and Memory program have exhibited reduced agitation and anxiety and improved mood, memory, and socialization. In 2016, the Luverne Veterans Home earned 4.87 out of 5.00 on its annual customer satisfaction survey.

Governor's Better Government Awards>>

Progress on a Continuing Mission

In 2013, the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) and the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness committed to the goal of ending Veteran homelessness in Minnesota as part of Heading Home: Minnesota’s Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. In 2014, MDVA created a dedicated leadership role to support progress on this goal, and developed and launched the Minnesota Homeless Veteran Registry, a vehicle for coordinating with many partners to find the fastest path to housing for every single Veteran facing homelessness. MDVA leveraged its LinkVet hotline, so that anyone can refer a Veteran to join the Registry by calling 888-LinkVet.

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Commanders of Diversity

The Minnesota Commanders’ Task Force (CTF) is a group of Commanders from each of the nine congressionally chartered Veterans service organizations. The CTF was created in 1988 to help make a stronger Veteran’s voice in legislation. For the first time in Minnesota’s history there are two Hispanic Commanders at the same time: Mick Aguirre for Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and Joe Mauricio of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). I got to sit down with both of these gentlemen and ask them about what this historic moment means to them.

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St. Thomas University Students Service Learning Project

On Thursday, October 6, approximately twelve University of St. Thomas, Wartime Literature students arrived at the Minnesota Veterans Home-Minneapolis for the first of five weekly visits.

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