‘Veterans’ Voices’ award-winners include Waconia man

By Staff Reports

A Waconia man will be among the honorees at the 2017 Veterans’ Voices Awards.

Luther Talks grew up on the Cheyenne Sioux Reservation in South Dakota and dropped out of school in 9th grade. In 2005, Talks enlisted in the National Guard and was deployed to Iraq. Later, Talks was deployed to Afghanistan on a bridge-building crew, until his hand was crushed and he was sent home.


After a hard adjustment, Talks went to the University of Minnesota, majoring in family social science. Now, as a National Guard sergeant, he travels for the Department of Health, from one tribal community to another, as the Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention Coordinator and is forming partnerships to provide suicide prevention for selected tribal communities based on need, capacity, and readiness using a comprehensive public health approach.

Talks has just re-enlisted in the Guard for six more years.

The Minnesota Humanities Center will recognize Talks and 20 other veterans as awardees. Minnesotans from across the state nominated veterans who have honorably served and have shown exemplary community service beyond their military service. From a host of nominees, eight “On the Rise” Veterans (age 40 and under) and 13 “Legacy” Veterans (age 41 and over) were selected by a panel of their peers to receive the Veterans’ Voices Award.

Awards will be presented at the Veterans’ Voices Award Ceremony (a public event) on Monday, Sept. 11, at the University of St. Thomas Anderson Student Center in Saint Paul. Public and private sector achievements of the 21 Minnesota Veterans will be recognized. Gulf War Veteran, WCCO-TV reporter and 2017 Awardee, Reg Chapman, will emcee. William D. “Bro” Adams will be the 2017 keynote speaker. Adams is a Vietnam War Veteran and most recently was Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

These awards are part of the Humanities Center’s Veterans’ Voices program that draws on the power of the humanities to call attention to the contributions and often-missed stories of Veterans. This program empowers all Minnesota Veterans to speak in their own voices through storytelling, art, theatre, discussion groups and more — amplifying the voices of Veterans throughout our state.

To find more information about the Veterans’ Voices program, register for the Award Ceremony and see a full list of awardees visit www.mnhum.org/vets/award/.