Herke retires from Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs

By Tim Engstrom

Commissioner position is open

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs is in the midst of a leadership change with the recent retirement of Commissioner Larry Herke. In mid-September, Herke announced his retirement due to an ALS diagnosis. His final day was Sept. 22.

Gov. Tim Walz appointed Herke to lead the agency in January 2019; he was reappointed in January 2023 to a second term. In April, Herke began a leave of absence to address health issues.

Larry Herke mugshot
Larry Herke

Herke shared: “It was an honor to serve veterans and their family members in my role as commissioner. I will continue to serve veterans in retirement as I partner with veteran organizations to advocate for advances in medical research toward a cure for ALS, a disease veterans receive a diagnosis of twice as much as the general population.”

Walz and Herke served together in the Minnesota National Guard. Herke, at one time, was boss to Walz. As governor, he became boss to Herke.

In a press release distributed last month, Walz said: “As a veteran of the U.S. Army and Minnesota National Guard, Commissioner Larry Herke dedicated his career to serving our state and country. As commissioner, he worked tirelessly to make progress toward ending veterans homelessness, strengthening our veterans homes and cemeteries, and helping Minnesota’s veterans and their families receive the best care and benefits. I am deeply grateful for his service and wish him well in his retirement.”

Herke, a member of Sauk Centre Post 67, told the Legionnaire he wishes to bring attention to the higher rates that veterans end up with ALS than the general population.

Deputy Commissioner for Programs and Services Brad Lindsay is in the role of interim commissioner.