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Member Voices

Meet a member: Erin Brown

Erin Brown earned a bachelor’s degree in commercial recreation and a master’s degree in sports management. But it was her military service in the Minnesota Army National Guard that determined her career path. She served from 2001-2010, including deployment to Iraq from 2005-2007. Erin is now the Cemetery Director of the State Veterans Cemetery in Sioux Falls. Erin and her husband live in Brandon with their three children, ages 9, 6 and 3.

1. What is your favorite way to spend a day in Sioux Falls?
Getting to spend a day enjoying Sioux Falls is rare. Days are normally spent running errands or chasing after kids’ events all around town. One ‘tradition’ we like to do is go to the Falls the day after Thanksgiving to see the lights. My family and I look forward to this every year and end up there more than once throughout the holiday season.

2. What is the best piece of advice you have received?
I have a few and they all tie together. The first is: ‘it isn’t a lot or a little, just something to get done.” This reminds me that we all have long lists of tasks/goals/projects to complete and each one has steps. If you break it down, it really isn’t one huge task, but many small tasks that are completely manageable and possible to accomplish. This leads me to the next advice. “Win the day” is written next to my computer. This one reminds me to get out there every day and complete all the tasks that need my attention and then do more.

3. How did you choose your career path?
I don’t think I chose my career path; it chose me. Each job pushed me to the next challenge. I started working with veterans as a County Veterans Service Officer in Minnesota before moving to the South Dakota Department of Veterans. Within the SDDVA I have held four different positions. As the new state Veterans Cemetery development progressed, I continued to have interest in it. Applying for the cemetery director position was the next big step in my career. In this role, I am able to continue serving veterans and their families on a daily basis. Rewarding is the word I would use to describe what I get to do each day.

4. What is a skill that you’d like to learn and why?
Boxing! Learning this skill would be a physical and mental challenge that would take time, patience and discipline. Hopefully in the near future there will be time to learn how to box.

5. If you could witness any event of the past, present or future, what would it be?
I would like to be a fly on the wall when the first conversations about the government of our country started. How did they come up with those beginning laws? What was it like sitting in a room with only candles for light? This may not be the only event that I would want to witness but there are so many to choose from.

6. What do you think is one of the biggest challenges facing our community today? And how should we tackle it?
One challenge, I see everywhere, is getting the younger generations involved and caring about community activities and policies. All of us may need to find the time and ability to take on roles within the community.

7. What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
One thing that surprises some people is that I have a big, blended family that gets together often. When explaining parents, siblings, and grandparents with someone, it sometimes takes a few times through for them to get things all straight. I wouldn’t change it for the world!

8. Tell us about one community or non-profit organization that you support. Why is it important to you?
I wouldn’t say there is just one community organization that I support, rather it is all of the veterans service organizations in the surrounding area. These groups support of the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs mission throughout the state and especially here at the Cemetery in Sioux Falls is unwavering and very rewarding.

9. Name a tool could you not live without. Why?
Thinking of my vehicle as a tool, I would say my vehicle is the tool I couldn’t live without. With getting to and from work and to all the family’s activities, there would be a lot of walking involved if no transportation was available.

10. What is something you are proud of?
Holding the position of the Director of the SD Veterans Cemetery is one thing I am very proud of. Being a part of this facility from the beginning has been both challenging and rewarding all at the same time. The service we provide here is like no other.