Letters To The Editor


To the Soldiers and Airmen of the National Guard

Combat is the ultimate team sport; it takes a collection of skills, talents, and strengths.  But most of all, it takes people-extraordinary people of courage and character who are dedicated to the Constitution, and willing to make sacrifices in the service of our Nation.  This Pride Month, we honor the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Soldiers and Airmen who strengthen our National Guard team.

It’s been ten years since Congress repealed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which barred Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual service members from openly serving in the Armed Forces.  Its repeal signified three things that endure today: First, dishonesty has no place in our military culture.  Second, we honor the diversity of our workforce and the power that diversity provides. Third-and most important-who someone is and whom they love has no bearing on their ability to serve our Nation.

It doesn’t matter if we’re flying sorties in the Middle East, or filling sandbags in the Midwest-our success depends on our strength as a team and our ability to work together.  Our success depends on our people.  We stand in solidarity with our LGBTQI+ service members, and commit to an organization built on inclusion and dignity for all.  It’s what it means to serve with pride.


Daniel R. Hokanson
General, U.S. Army
Chief, National Guard Bureau



Thank you to Lavender Magazine for its consistently thorough, honest, coverage of our great soldiers and airmen in the Minnesota National Guard. Now, more than ever, we need transparency and reach out to the citizenry of Minnesota regarding exactly who we are as Citizen Airmen and Soldiers.  We ARE the community, and constantly strive to represent it, along with its diverse demography, in our ranks.

Our LGBT members are thriving  in our units.  There is always progress to be made for sure, just like in our greater society, but the true testament to our ability to not only recruit, but retain members of diverse communities, is when we see those members rise to positions of leadership and command.  And we do have multiple LGBT Commanders in both the Minnesota Army and Air National Guard!  It’s not only important for new LGBT Guardsmen to see themselves among their peers, but when they see themselves in the command positions, it solidifies the concept of true inclusion.  

The numbers clearly show the higher propensity for military service among the LGBT population compared to the general population.  Perhaps it has something to do with their awareness that their freedoms and rights are not to be taken for granted, and that as guardians of freedom and the democratic process, they can be a part of the protection of those rights.  Regardless, they are high performing, committed, selfless servant leaders within our great organization, serving their great state and nation.  Bravo Lavender, for highlighting our great LGBT warriors!

Brig Gen Dan Gabrielli
Assistant Adjutant General-Air
Minnesota National Guard


Dear Stephen Rocheford—

Thank you for sending me a copy of the Lavender 2021 Pride Edition.  I took time this morning to review it cover to cover.  WOW!  It is packed with so many great articles, advertisements and fun things to do.  I saw the MN ARNG advertisement, and of course the incredible article in the Community section by Lavender, “Ten Years Later:  After the Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.

I had to thank you for this all-encompassing article on matters of importance to the Minnesota National Guard and our State.  Kudos to you Stephen, all copied on this e-mail that participated in this great news story for the MN NG, and all of you who are working so hard to make us better through diversity, equity, and inclusion.  I was so touched by the stories shared by Sebastian Nemec and Ashley Priess.  And then our phenomenal PAO Team to include Maj Nelson, MSG Heusdens, SSG Mariette, SFC Houtkooper and Mr Housey sharing facts and information on our MN NG diversity, state and federal missions, environmental initiatives, and priorities really amplified so many of our efforts to always improve our culture, NG and State. The information on the extremism stand-down training was also very relevant.  Mr Brezinka’s final quote on our sustainable infrastructure success supporting our mission, environment and community topped the cake.

And Lavender’s ending exemplifies the men and women of the MN NG’s mission:  “From the environment to women to the LGBTQ+ community, the MN NG is making its mission clear:  It is advocating for a future that is better –more diverse and more inclusive—than the past.”

Well done Mr Rocheford and all copied on this e-mail!  Thanks for your partnership with the MN NG!  BRAVO on this article that nailed the efforts of a collaborative team led by MG Manke!  Loved it!

Brigadier General Sandy Best
Deputy Adjutant General, Minnesota National Guard
Joint Force Headquarters, 20 West 12th Street, St. Paul, MN 55155


Brigadier General Sandy Best:

Thank you so much for this wonderful email.   It is so kind of you to include me in this and I am humbled by your words.

I believe that the personnel serving in uniform are the heroes who should be praised for their selflessness, their courage, their loyalty to our state and country, and who serve for the betterment of our common future.  No greater exhortations could be achieved by all our heroes in uniform than their service.  They, and you, are our protectors and the guardians of our future as a civil society that is democratically governed in the finest traditions of the United States of America.

The study of history ennobles the student with the ability to discern those who are working toward a positive solution, from those who are part of the problem.  GEN Hokanson, LTG Jensen, MG Manke, BG Gabrielli, the soldiers in those stories, all who assisted, and you, are the reason we are going forward together.  The price of greatness is the acceptance of responsibility, and all uniformed personnel herein listed, are candidates for the best of our species.  I doff my cap to those who continue to achieve on a day-to-day basis making progress in the fight for us all, and whose actions demonstrate the courage to continue.

One day at a time, two steps forward, one step backwards, continues the rhythm of life.  We shall persevere in our common endeavors.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill

God bless you, protect you, and keep you all safe from harm.

Stephen Rocheford


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