ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Minnesota is one of the top states in the nation for participation in the National Guard and military. The state has also taken the lead in helping service members transition into the workforce after their duty is over.
Thursday, the state held a veterans summit in St. Paul with the goal of not just connecting veterans to services, but to also focus on transferring their skills into state government. Minnesota has about 320,000 veterans and currently about 3,000 of them work in state government.
“I was one myself within the last 100 days,” said Angela Steward-Randle, human resources director of the Department of Management and Budget. “I transitioned out of the Minnesota National Guard after a 30-year career, and now an employee of the state government.”
As a retired colonel, Steward-Randle is now using her skills in a different setting.
“Veterans come to any organization and bring a lot of skillsets, leadership skills, management skills, that the State has been able to benefit from,” said Steward-Randle.
Veterans make up eight percent of state government workers, but their skillsets are in high demand outside of government, too.
“They’re motivated, they’re self-starters,” said Dept of Veterans Affairs Chief of Staff Mike KcElhiney. “They’re involved in technology, kind of at the cutting edge and when we think of all of these things that folks are using on the battlefield today developed by DARPA and Microsoft and all of these things, I mean they’re hands-on. So they’re a valuable asset to the companies here in Minnesota.”
Part of what the summit is all about is making sure veterans get the services and benefits they need to make their transitions work.
“And for anyone that I hear say, ‘give it to the other person, someone else deserves it more’ - I hear a lot of that,” said Department of Veterans Affairs, Dir. of Claims and Field Operations Ron Quade. “What I express to them is that if you’re not stepping up and being counted by the federal government as a recognized veteran, you are actually hurting the greater effort in the long run. We need to come together as the largest veteran force possible, and that’s where our resources come in.”
Quade says the most important thing transitioning service members can do is check in with their county veterans service officer and to keep going back to make sure that they are getting all of the benefits the state and federal government has to offer them.