Richfield Man Honored For Veterans Advocacy Work

Ryan Else specializes in helping veterans suffering from PTSD navigate the legal system.

Ryan Else (Credit: Veterans Voices)
Ryan Else (Credit: Veterans Voices)
A Richfield lawyer is being honored next month by a statewide arts and culture group for dedicating his legal practice and volunteer work to veterans suffering from PTSD.

Ryan Else—himself a veteran—is slated to receive the Minnesota Humanities Center's Veterans Voices award on Sept. 11 for helping to educate lawyers on how to defend a person suffering from the psychological scars of war, and for volunteer work to help local veterans.

According to a biography supplied by the Humanities Center Else served as a Sergeant in the Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry Regiment from 1998 to 2004, including a tour as a peacekeeper in Kosovo when ethnic tensions between ethnic Albanians and ethnic Serbs nearly boiled over into civil war.

After leaving the military, Else became a lawyer at Minneapolis firm Brockton D. Hunter, P.A., and has specialized in defending veterans. He has helped author a legal textbook for lawyers trying to learn the quirks of defending combat veterans whose psychological combat wounds may have played a role in their crimes.

As highlighted in a 2008 New York Times report, post-traumatic stress disorder can turn some sufferers down self-destructive paths, from minor criminality or substance abuse to manslaughter or murder. Minnesota law, in particular, recognizes PTSD as a treatable mental illness and encourages accused veterans suffering from PTSD receive treatment instead of prison time in some cases.

Else will be joined at the awards ceremony by 24 other Minnesota veterans. The award ceremony will also kick off a statewide program that "uses the power of the humanities to bring the voices of veterans out of the shadows," according to a statement from the Humanities Center. 

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