Herke, who was appointed by Gov. Tim Walz in January of 2019, had served for more than 30 years as a member of the U.S. Army and Minnesota National Guard.

Larry Herke, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, is retiring due to an ALS diagnosis.

Larry Herke, Department of Veterans Affairs

Herke, who was appointed by Gov. Tim Walz in January of 2019, had previously served for more than 30 years as a member of the U.S. Army and Minnesota National Guard. He also served as state director of the Office of Enterprise Sustainability, helping agencies to develop sustainability planning.

His last day as commissioner will be Sept. 22. Deputy Commissioner Brad Lindsay will work as a temporary commissioner until a permanent successor is appointed.

Herke, who is from Mankato, said in a statement Tuesday he was saddened to leave the post.

“I am saddened to announce my retirement from my position as Commissioner for Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs due to my ALS diagnosis,” he said. “It was an honor to serve veterans and their family members in my role as commissioner and I am grateful to Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan to have had the opportunity. 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 often as the general population.”

Walz praised Herke’s service in a statement on his retirement.

“As a veteran of the U.S. Army and Minnesota National Guard, Commissioner Larry Herke dedicated his career to serving our state and country,” Walz said. “As commissioner, he worked tirelessly to make progress toward ending veterans homelessness, strengthen 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.”

Last March several whistleblowers came forward with allegations of a toxic workplace at the Minnesota Veterans Home in Hastings.

After the caregivers spoke out, the Minnesota Senate veterans committee called Herke to testify about the allegations. Before the hearing, Herke fired two top officials who oversaw care at the Hastings facility — site administrator Mike Anderson and Deputy Commissioner Doug Hughes.

During his testimony, Herke said he moved quickly when he learned of the caregivers’ complaints in May 2022. He said he developed a plan to improve the work environment and later decided to fire top officials after improvements didn’t happen quickly enough.

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