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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota Guardsmen among 25 honored with Veterans' Voices Awards

Veterans' Voices Awardees ST PAUL, Minn - Being a citizen-soldier encompasses significant sacrifices for the service rendered to state and country Deployments and schools require weeks away from family, friends and life in addition to the challenges of reintegrating back into work or school and life after all this time away

After all of that, would anyone have time for anything else? Some Service members juggle all of this and much more by giving back in big ways to their communities

For the third year, the Minnesota Humanities Center Board of Directors recognized Minnesota veterans for their selfless service and sacrifice These men and women, who were nominated by members of the community, were chosen based on significant contributions to their unit, fellow Service members and their communities

The University of St Thomas hosted this year's Veterans' Voices Award Ceremony, September 11, 2015, honoring more than 20 veterans of all services These military members came from around the state and have made a huge impact on the lives of their fellow Service members and the community Many of these awardees are past and present members of the Minnesota National Guard

"Our commonality is that we come from a unique culture that transforms us," said Trista Matascastillo, Minnesota Humanities Center Veterans' Voices Program Officer "We speak a different language; we form new traditions; we become part of something much bigger than ourselves This holds true no matter what branch of service, what war or even if you are an American or not We are Veterans and we are part of our communities"

The achievements these inspiring Soldiers and Airmen made in their communities range from awardees of a Medal of Valor to countless volunteer hours outside of their military service and full-time work These Minnesota National Guard men and women who have and are serving inspired all in attendance, not only with their willingness to service, but with their tireless efforts in improving the world around them

"This award is to help you remember that people are noticing and recognizing what you do," said David Wentzel, a veteran of the Minnesota National Guard and 2014 Veteran Voices Awardee "This is not a period in your story, just a comma - always keep pushing forward"

In attendance was Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, US Senator Amy Klobuchar and Commissioner of Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, Retired Maj. Gen. Larry Shellito Donations from Wounded Warrior Project, US Bank and more than a dozen other program sponsors made the night possible and free of charge to all in attendance

"Receiving this award on 9/11 is bittersweet, as we reflect on the impact this day has had on our country and the veteran community," said Sgt Dajon Ferrell, one of the award recipients "I'm accepting the award on behalf of my fellow warriors and their dedication to service Our voices help bridge the gap between civilians and veterans, while always remembering the sacrifices made, especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice"

To donate or to learn more about the Veterans Voices Program through the Minnesota Humanities Center in St Paul, Minn, visit: wwwminnesotahumanitiesorg/vets

September 11, 2015
by Tech Sgt Lynette Olivares
133rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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