Clark Dyrud, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs since March 2005, is retiring April 14.

Current Deputy Commissioner Michael Pugliese will replace Dyrud, a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient who has worked at the Veterans Affairs Dept. since 1980, Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced this afternoon.

Dyrud, 63, was appointed Commissioner of Veterans Affairs in March 2005. He served in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968 as a squad leader in a mechanized infantry unit. While serving, he was wounded in combat and received a Purple Heart.

Pugliese, 41, will be the state’s 16th Commissioner of Veterans Affairs, a position that pays $108,393. He served as Deputy Commissioner since January 2001 and was Acting Commissioner from December 2004 to March 2005. He served with the United States Marines Corps from 1987 to 1991.

The Department works to ensure that Minnesota’s veterans, their dependents and survivors receive the benefits and services to which they are entitled.