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Minnesota National Guard
Shellito plans to reach out to veterans


ST PAUL -- Larry Shellito commanded thousands of Minnesota National Guard troops the past seven years, including those fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now faces a different kind of battle

As the newly named Minnesota Veterans' Affairs Department commissioner, the 65-year-old retired major general said that his major task will be making sure the state's veterans know his agency can help them

"It is the best kept secret," the 65-year-old Shellito said about his state department, so his job will be more public relations than hand-to-hand combat

About 60 percent of Minnesota veterans do not know about the state agency's services, Shellito said

"One of my key jobs is to work with the veterans' organizations," he said "My goal is to create systems processes, tools, techniques for them to do their job more effectively"

The department helps 381,000 Minnesota veterans and their dependents obtain help from the federal Veterans' Administration as well as assisting them as they return from overseas duty

Gov Mark Dayton Wednesday announced that Shellito is his veterans pick

Shellito, who lives in Woodbury, stepped down as state National Guard leader last year after seven years He is a former Alexandria Technical College president and a Minnesota State University Moorhead graduate

In making the appointment, Dayton specifically pointed out Shellito's efforts to create Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, a program to help Guard and Reserve soldiers reintegrate into society after returning from overseas

Minnesota's National Guard under Shellito grew to more than 14,000 members, operating 63 facilities across Minnesota

Shellito, a retired major general, began military service in 1968 and served in Vietnam, then spent 37 years in the Minnesota Army National Guard

While the state Senate must confirm Shellito, he has received glowing reviews from all political segments No other Dayton appointment has received as much reaction
"Major Gen Shellito will be a great leader for the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs," US Rep Collin Peterson, D-Minn, said "Veterans across the state can count on Major Gen Shellito's commitment to veterans and their families, and I'm pleased that Gov Dayton has chosen him for such an important job"
Former colleagues joined in the praise

"From the days when Gen Shellito and I served together in the Minnesota National Guard, his commitment to those who have served our nation has been clear," US Rep Tim Walz, D-Minn, said "He is a strong leader, a good listener, always focused on the mission at hand, an excellent manager and a visionary thinker"

And the man who succeeded him as head of the state Guard added his comments

"I have confidence that he will faithfully serve all of Minnesota's veterans," Adjutant General Richard Nash said

With a rural background, Shellito said he will talk to those who serve veterans around the state to see if they have special needs For instance, some rural veterans complain that health care clinics are too far away

It is important for veterans needing health care to stay close to home, Shellito said That could help health-care providers in those areas, he added, and make for better health services for all rural Minnesotans

"On my to-do list is contacting the county veteran service officers," he said

By: Don Davis, The Republican Eagle
Published January 14 2011


Article source
http://www.republican-eagle.com/event/article/id/71506/group/News/



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