Commander Havlick: Hastings situation illustrates dire need for upgrade

Statement on situation at Hastings Veterans Home attributed to Department Commander Jennifer Havlick

March 20, 2023

The American Legion Department of Minnesota has a Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Committee that routinely visits the Minnesota Veterans Homes and other places where veterans of our state receive care. These visits are to ensure veterans are being cared for properly.

Our interest in this matter and any situations like this always comes down to whether veterans are receiving the care they are supposed to be getting.

Jennifer Havlick

In the short time since the allegations in the Pioneer Press, The American Legion’s department service officer, assistant department service officer, Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Committee chairwoman and state adjutant have visited the home. While we are unable to give you an assessment of the staff issues or the workplace culture here and now, we can say we are troubled by the allegation in the story. We also can say we do not believe the overall day-to-day care of veterans at the Hastings Veterans Home was compromised.

That said, this entire situation speaks to the pressing need for bonding bill funding in the amount of $77.7 million to help our state replace several buildings at the Hastings campus. Those are buildings constructed in the early 1900s as an insane asylum, and today the veterans receiving care at Hastings do so in an institutionalized setting. Many of the more modern buildings in the Minnesota Veterans Home system have warm settings. They often feel like home or even a cabin up north. The contrast is stark.

If lawmakers want to fix the situation in Hastings, it’s not just going to be about changing the leadership. It’s going to be about making it a true place for veterans to receive care, and that involves upgrading the campus.

We support the steps taken by Commissioner Larry Herke and the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, and we believe the agency has the best interest of veterans at heart.

— Jennifer Havlick, Department Commander