Minnesota DVA removes 2 leaders in response to ‘ongoing issues’ at Hastings Veterans Home

The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) is looking to fill two leadership positions after removing its deputy commissioner and the administrator of its Hastings Veterans Home, according to a copy of a staff email obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

The email, which MDVA distributed to its employees Sunday, confirmed Douglas Hughes and Mike Anderson are no longer employed by the department.

“I have decided to go in a different direction with the Home’s leadership,” said MDVA Commissioner Larry Herke. “The last day for Deputy Commissioner Douglas Hughes and Hastings Veterans Home Administrator Mike Anderson was March 18, 2023. MDVA thanks them for their service.”

Herke’s statement pointed to “ongoing issues” at the Hastings Veterans Home and said the department aims for “continuing to make positive changes in the service of our Veterans.”

A Minnesota Senate press release on behalf of state Sen. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul), chair of the Local Government and Veterans Committee, said the committee will be holding an informal hearing at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to question Herke and MDVA staff members.

Murphy’s statement was as follows:

“I am grateful to see the MDVA acting to address the unacceptable conditions for veterans and their caregivers in Hastings. Our committee and our caucus take seriously the allegations of mismanagement, retaliation, and staff turnover, and its impact on the care and the lives of our treasured veterans. 

This is a much needed step.  But we have more work to do in order to achieve the high quality of care and the quality of life Minnesotans rightly expect for our veterans.  I look forward to the opportunity to hear from Commissioner Herke on how the department plans to move forward.  We will continue to invite the input of veterans, their families, providers, and staff. I will work this session to insure that our veterans homes are adequately funded, staffed, and supported.”

Minnesota Sen. Erin Murphy

While MDVA looks to fill its vacant positions, MDVA Programs and Services Commissioner Brad Lindsay will step into the deputy commissioner role, while licensed nursing home administrator Craig Smith will lead the Hastings facility.

MDVA also wished to share it is seeking legislative funding to improve the Hastings campus.

“This investment will dramatically improve the Veteran experience at the Home,” a department representative said.

A copy of MDVA’s proposal can be found below.