Hastings’ annual Veterans Day observances scheduled
Remembering and honoring.
The meal is $13 and tickets can be purchased at the American Legion, Green Mill Restaurant Bar and Grill, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The guest speakers for the evening are two female veterans, who continue to work for veterans – Ashley Laganiere and Trista Matascastillo.
Laganiere is a third-generation Army veteran and spouse, and has a strong commitment for serving Minnesota veterans. She joined the Minnesota Army National Guard in 2002 when she was 17. She spent three years in the Guard until being discharged due to a service-connected disability.
After service, Laganiere attended Winona State University and earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in elementary education with emphasis in communication, arts and literature. After teaching for a year, Laganiere accepted a position with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, St. Paul regional office. She spent more than five years in compensation, developing claims for service-connection and specializing in development of military sexual trauma claims. She was heavily involved in mentoring St. Paul employees and training new employees on the national level. She has also earned a master’s degree in public and nonprofit administration from Metropolitan State University. In November 2014 Laganiere left the Veterans Affairs to accept the Gold Star Families and Women Veterans coordinator position with Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs.
The mission of the Minnesota Women Veterans Program is to ensure women veterans have equitable access to federal and state benefits and services, and that veterans are treated with dignity and respect. The outreach events are geared to improve the awareness of available benefits, services, and eligibility criteria for the women who served in the United States Armed Forces. The Gold Star Family Program supports the families of those service members who lost their lives in combat as they heal from their loss. In addition to her regular duties, Laganiere was selected as a 2015 Veterans Voices Legacy winner.
Matascastillo began her military career in 1992 when she enlisted in the United States Navy. She served as an avionic technician and was the first woman to serve in her command. She later was selected into a commissioning program and transferred into the United States Marine Corps. After four years with the Marine Corps she again transferred to the Minnesota Army National Guard as an active guard and reserve officer. She served as the first woman Air Defense officer and later commanded the 34th Military Police Company. In 2008 she left the military and began working for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity as the government relations senior associate.
Matascastillo currently serves as the program officer with the Veterans’ Voices program of the Minnesota Humanities Center. She also serves as chair of the Women Veterans Initiative, advocating for equality in services and developing programming meeting the needs of Women Veterans. She also participates as a medical research program consumer advocate for Military and Veteran Research, and secretary of Gender Justice. She is a contributing author of the Attorneys Guide to Defending Veterans in Criminal Court. She was honored as the 2011 Minnesota Woman Veteran of the Year and recently received the Land O’ Lakes Inspirational Woman award.
Additional community Veterans Day observances will be held at the Hastings Middle School at 9:30 a.m.; Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton School at 1 p.m; Minnesota Veterans Home Hastings at 2 p.m.; and St John the Baptist School in Vermillion at 3 p.m.
All programs are open to the public.