MMAF was proud to host General (Ret.) Joseph Votel on Veterans Day for a virtual fundraising event. General Joseph Votel retired last year as a Four-Star General and the Commander of United States Central Command (CENTCOM), the unified command of the Department of Defense responsible for our nation’s security interests across the most volatile parts of the world. General Votel returned home to Minnesota after a 40-year career serving in the highest ranking and most sensitive assignments. General Votel served as the keynote speaker for MMAF’s 2019 Appreciation Dinner and has been an ardent supporter of MMAF.
The virtual event, a first for MMAF, was hosted by Tom Hauser of KSTP 5-Eyewitness News. The evening began with an update from MMAF Chair, Roger Sit, on the impact MMAF has had in 2020 along with updates on the deployments and upcoming deployments of Minnesota National Guard and Reserve units this year. The convergence of COVID and large deployments resulted in MMAF processing more grants in 2020 than it had in nearly a decade.
General Votel spoke about the effects of COVID-19 on U.S. Military readiness and military interests around the globe, the current security environment in the U.S., and the importance of Veterans Day. General Votel indicated that early in the pandemic, the U.S. Military took precautions and modified protocol both in mobilizations and in training. While the military did experience a few small-scale outbreaks, most notably on Naval ships, there has been lower numbers of COVID cases overall compared to the general population. General Votel credited the cohesiveness of military leadership and the regular testing taking place within our armed forces for limiting the spread of the virus among U.S. service members. Here in the U.S., our military has played a vital role during this pandemic, building field hospitals, serving on naval medical vessels, and deploying to assist medical personnel in hot spots. It is also anticipated that our military will play a role in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines across the country.
General Votel also spoke about the social and economic constraints facing the military in 2020 and beyond, and our ongoing power struggle with international disruptors like China. He concluded with remarks about Veterans Day, including the importance of our veterans and the impact they have on our nation. Tom Hauser then moderated a Q&A session. We appreciated the thoughtful questions from viewers which touched on military readiness, technology and the evolution of military affairs. We greatly appreciate General Votel taking the time to share his insight with MMAF supporters.
While we were disappointed we could not gather in person, we appreciate those who spent the evening with MMAF virtually. Many of MMAF’s longtime supporters sponsored the virtual event and we especially appreciate their charitable support in this year of uncertainties. We are proud to say that because of our sponsors, MMAF raised over $300,000 from the event. We look forward to 2021 with the hope that we will be able to gather in-person once again and show our support for Minnesota’s service members and their families.