With American troops deployed in the Middle East and across the globe, this Veterans' Day it's especially important to honor those who volunteer to serve our country. Veterans' Day began as Armistice Day, commemorating the cease-fire that ended WWI, and was expanded to honor veterans of all wars in 1954. Today, it offers us an opportunity to say "thank you", not only to the active duty military and their families who are now serving, but also to the 430,000 veterans living in Minnesota who've served in the past.
These brave Americans deserve the full support of the state and federal governments. Although military and veterans affairs are primarily federal issues, with Minnesota's National Guard and Reserve soldiers continually being called to active duty, state government is playing an increasingly important role. This session, I supported the following bi-partisan initiatives passed by the Legislature to provide for our soldiers and veterans:
· 100% tuition reimbursement for members of the Minnesota National Guard
· $670,000 in state matching funds for a WWII memorial on the Capitol Grounds, to be completed by fall 2006
· New "Support Our Troops" license plates, with proceeds going to military families and veterans' organizations
· $500,000 for outreach to underserved veterans, including veterans of color, female veterans, and veterans of limited financial means, to assist them in identifying and applying for state and federal benefits for which they're eligible
· $5.4 million for construction and upkeep at state veterans' homes
As the father of a veteran, I understand that the best way to honor veterans is to make sure that they receive the benefits and services they deserve. It's the least we can do to thank them for their patriotic service.
State Representative, District 46A