The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association is pleased to announce John Kriesel, an Iraq War veteran and former state legislator, will serve as the keynote speaker during its upcoming virtual annual meeting.
“As a board, we all agreed that after a year like 2020, John’s story is one that our growers will draw inspiration from,” MSGA President Jamie Beyer said. “He’s spoken at several county board annual meetings, and we’ve heard nothing but positive reviews.”
Kriesel lost his legs and three close buddies in Iraq, but he returned to Minnesota with a powerful message of hope and is a living testimony that a positive attitude can help overcome any challenge.
Kriesel served as a NATO peacekeeper in Kosovo in 2004 before volunteering for deployment to Iraq. On Dec. 2, 2006, his team struck an improvised explosive device (IED), and he was not expected to survive. During his recovery, Kriesel was told he probably would be in a wheelchair the rest of his life. Instead, he walked out of Walter Reed Army Medical Center after nine months. He retired as a staff sergeant following 10 years in the Army National Guard, receiving the Combat Infantryman Badge, Purple Heart, Bronze Star and other awards. Working with author Jim Kosmo, Kriesel revealed his motivational story in “Still Standing: The Story of SSG John Kriesel,” winner of eight national book awards.
Four years after his near-death experience in Iraq, Kriesel became a civilian marketing employee with the Minnesota Army National Guard, and in 2012 was named director of veteran services for Anoka County. As a legislator in the Minnesota House of Representatives, Kriesel was anything but a quiet freshman, challenging even his own party and frequently speaking his mind. “Kriesel’s honesty is a breath of fresh air at the Capitol,” declared the Star Tribune newspaper
In addition to serving veterans in the Twin Cities and being a frequent voice on KFAN radio’s Power Trip Morning Show, he continues to share his upbeat, motivational message with businesses and organizations throughout the United States. Statewide, he’s appeared at numerous corn and soybean county annual meetings.
“We’re all going to face adversity at some point,” Kriesel said, “and it’s up to us to make the choice as to how we’re going to face it.”
Kriesel is expected to address the delegates for about 45 minutes. MSGA will hold its annual meeting and delegate sessions on Thursday morning, Jan. 21. The meeting is open to all current MSGA members.