by Jenna Trisko
Minnesota Army National Guard veteran and Rice-area resident Shelby Hadley was honored Sept. 11 at the prestigious Veteran’s Voice Award ceremony presented by the Minnesota Humanities Center on the campus of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.
The award recognizes 25 current and former military personnel who are making outstanding contributions to Minnesota. Hadley served in two deployments as an air-traffic controller in 2003 in Bosnia and again in 2008 for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Hadley was nominated by representatives from Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota and the Wounded Warrior Project – all of them organizations for which she volunteers.
Criteria for the award are promotion of positive leadership, and a concern for and an awareness of veterans’ issues. Nominations were voted on by a panel of veterans.
Hadley was selected as an award recipient based on a widespread commitment to central Minnesota veterans and their families. She has served for the last four years as a committee member with Beyond the Yellow Ribbon where she seeks to provide resources to military personnel and their families during and after deployments. She is also a member of the advisory board for Big Brothers Big Sisters where her focus is to encourage families to utilize the mentoring services of the organization. Hadley also works with the Wounded Warrior Project where she serves as a certified peer mentor to veterans struggling with the reintegration process after returning from deployments.
Hadley recently shared her military story in a theater performance put on by the Telling Story Project which was held at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. It was entitled, Telling: Minnesota 2015, a play which was also presented locally at the St. Cloud Technical and Community College.
“I am focused on creating a community that is concerned about veterans’ needs,” Hadley said, regarding her volunteerism. “I believe listening to our veterans’ voices is important. We need to understand their culture and experience, and doing this with sincerity is key.”
Hadley currently works for St. Cloud Veterans Affairs as a vocational rehabilitation specialist assisting veterans in finding employment. She also acts as secretary of the Sauk Rapids-Rice School District Parent-Teacher Association and provides mentoring through Team Red, White and Blue.
Further, Hadley has become an advocate for veteran-suicide awareness.
“Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day in the United States,” Hadley said, “and we are seeing an uptick in young women attempting suicide. We need to empower women and create a voice.”
Hadley has three children and a husband, who is currently deployed. She plans to obtain her master’s of business administration this year.
Christi Shortridge, communications director of the Minnesota Humanities Center, said Hadley is amazing and provides exceptional service in her work. Shortridge went on to say that she was thrilled Shelby was recognized as one of the recipients of this award.
The award ceremony was held at the University of St. Thomas where Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar came to recognize the efforts of Hadley and other recipients.