Legislative Director, MDVA
Once again another budget year has come to an end - but not without challenges. The Legislature literally finished their work in the eleventh hour - minutes before midnight on May 20 – and achieved much in order to keep Minnesota moving ahead. It was a strong year for Veterans. Initiatives that were necessary and supported by the Governor and the legislature was able to put the final linchpin in several Veterans initiatives. Governor Dayton delivered a budget that invests in Minnesota Veterans, ensuring they receive the education, opportunities, and benefits they earned through their service.
» Minneapolis Veterans Home. The budget includes $18.9 million in the bonding bill to complete Phase 3 of the Minneapolis Veterans Home replacement project. With this state funding, the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs hopes to leverage $35.2 million in federal funds through a compflagetitive grant process and will provide high-quality skilled nursing services for Minnesota’s Veterans.
» Expansion of the Minnesota GI Bill. With an additional $1 million investment, the Minnesota GI Bill program will expand to include all generations of veterans – not just those serving on or after 9/11. This expansion will help ensure all Minnesota veterans have access to the education and training they need to get good-paying jobs.
» One-on-One Help for Veterans. The budget provides $2 million in increased grant funding for County Veteran Services Offices, which help veterans and their families obtain the benefits and services they earned through military service.
This month I will focus on the “Thank You’s” that are past due to our Veteran Leadership across the great state of Minnesota!
First…to all those who worked hard to insure that Memorial Day was focused on its true purpose… honoring our fallen heroes. The ceremonies, media interactions, and expressions of our caring and honor were focused on the day’s true meaning. Thank you for your hard work and detailed planning.
Second…I want to thank our Commanders’ Task Force for their leadership this past legislative session. Collectively the Commanders forged a solid legislative agenda; monitored it consistently; and in the final hours worked both within and outside our agency to insure their goals were properly vetted, with the key goal of seeing the completion of the Minneapolis Veterans Home properly funded.
MDVA Higher Education Veterans Program, Southeast Regional Coordinator
When Minnesota’s Veterans return from deployment, they are greeted with a wider support network than any of their brothers or sisters from other generations before them could ever imagine. Even with so much assistance available, it can still be difficult to make ends meet, especially when attempting to further their education. There are many education benefits available, but often students have a hard time making ends meet while they juggle their studies with their jobs and their families. The Hiawatha Valley Yellow Ribbon (BYR) Committee saw this as an opportunity to show their gratitude.
Across the generations – and across the centuries – Americans have answered the call to duty and many paid the ultimate price. Memorial Day is a time to honor the memory and service of all Veterans and military who have given their lives in the service of this country. No greater sacrifice could ever be asked of an individual. The service of these Veterans has impacted the life of every single citizen of this great nation. It is for that sacrifice that I salute my fallen comrades.
There is no observance in America more somber than Memorial Day. In events held across America this Memorial Day weekend, people will gather in small towns and big cities for one purpose: to remember our fallen, pay homage to their sacrifice and courage, and to recognize the selflessness of military service.
The 2013 Veterans of Foreign Wars MN State Commanders project is “Ride for Healing.” The State Commander Lee Ulferts is a Vietnam Veteran, and has chosen this as a fundraising event for the Vietnam Education Center in Washington DC. Vietnam Veterans will be recognized throughout the state. It is his passion and belief the out-state Minnesota Vietnam Veterans have never had the chance to be recognized and honored for their service. This will be an attempt to provide them with that honor and to welcome them home and give them a chance for the healing of all the hurts they have carried these many years. It will also give the public a chance to contribute to this cause in their honor as the caravan travels through the state.
This year marks the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War. On March 29, in recognition of Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Day, the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) and the Minnesota Twins announced a partnership to honor Vietnam Veterans. In April, June and September, more than 30 Minnesota Vietnam Veterans will raise the American Flag at the start of Minnesota Twins baseball games. MDVA Commissioner Larry Shellito, a Vietnam Veteran will kick off the partnership by raising the flag at the April 3 game.