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Minnesota State Mankato Recognized for Commitment to Veterans' Success
Two alums and current student honored by Minnesota Humanities Center.
Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office News Release, 9-17-2014
- To read more about Minnesota State Mankato's veterans, read the current today magazine cover story.
Mankato, Minn. – Minnesota State University, Mankato was recently added to the U.S. Department of Education’s list of colleges and universities that support “8 Keys to Veterans’ Success.”
Among the "8 Keys to Veterans' Success" that an institution must commit to implement are creating a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to promote well-being and success for veterans, and ensuring consistent and sustained support from campus leadership.
Minnesota Humanities Center’s Veterans Voices Awards
Minnesota State Mankato’s commitment to supporting veterans was exemplified by the Minnesota Humanities Center’s Veterans Voices Awards that two Minnesota State Mankato graduates and a current student recently received as vets who have gone “above and beyond the call of duty.”
Presented on Sept. 11 in St. Paul, the award honors veterans “who served honorably, are thriving, and are making extraordinary contributions to their communities.” Three such veterans are Minnesota State Mankato alumni Christopher Hinton and Dave Wentzel and business management student Jason McNamara. (A Minnesota Humanities Center press release describes why Hinton, Wentzel and McNamara were nominated for Veterans' Voices Awards.)
Hinton, a U.S. Navy veteran from Waseca, Minn., served as a sonar technician in the Persian Gulf. After graduating from Minnesota State Mankato afterward, he works today as a case manager for the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans. His job involves helping troubled veterans whose post-military experiences have run afoul of the law.
“The chronic offenders are the ones that really need the help,” Hinton says. “They’ve gotten caught in the justice loop and can’t seem to get out. I help them break that and become successful citizens.”
Luverne, Minn., native David Wentzel, a National Guard veteran who served 16 months in Iraq, works for U.S. Rep. Tim Walz’s office as an advocate for Minnesota veterans. He frequently helps veterans who are eligible for disability benefits navigate red tape and receive them.
“We work with a very complex population with unique problems. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows,” Wentzel says of the work he frequently coordinates with Hinton through the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans. “In their worst moment, we’re the ones who are going to be there to help ‘em through it.”
McNamara, of Mankato, is a wounded Iraq War veteran whose advocacy for veterans has included legislative testimony that brought about the Combat Wounded motorcycle license plate in Minnesota. He is a staff member of the Wounded Warrior Guide Service that helps wounded vets participate in outdoor sports. McNamara recently transferred to the University, where he is a junior.
At Minnesota State Mankato, Hinton and Wentzel both took part in the camaraderie, networking and friendship available through the Veterans Resource Center. The two are among several alumni veterans featured in the cover story of the fall issue of Minnesota State Mankato’s alumni magazine. The magazine can be accessed online at today.mnsu.edu.
Veterans Voices is an ongoing program of the Minnesota Humanities Commission that uses art, discussion groups, theater and the awards to call attention to the stories and contributions of Minnesota Veterans.
Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 15,409 students, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, which comprises 31 state institutions.
- RELATED NEWS: Here is a July press release from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities about a State Government Innovation Award the system received in recognition of its pioneering web-based search tool for veterans.