Veterans, military deserve state’s full support

Veteran’s Day is a time devoted to thanking veterans and current members of the military for their service to our country. Over the past few years, Veteran’s Day has taken on even more significance with our military fighting overseas.

This is particularly true for the members of the National Guard and Reserve and their families. Right now, nearly 40 percent of U.S. military personnel currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are National Guard and Reserve troops, including many from Minnesota. All told, more than 3,000 Guard and Reserve troops from Minnesota are on active duty, either overseas or in the state. It is the highest level of deployment since World War II. Many of those on active duty live right here in Maplewood and Oakdale.

I think most of us recognize the sacrifice these brave men and women are making on our behalf. We understand the dangers and at least some of the hardships. Still, it’s important that we recognize the burden placed on their families and do what we can to ease that burden.

The federal government has the primary responsibility of taking care of veterans and the military, but as our state’s National Guard and Reserve members continue to be called to serve on active duty, Minnesota’s state government has taken a more active role.

This year, the Legislature passed a number of bipartisan provisions to support Minnesota’s veterans and military members. Tax breaks have been extended to Guard and Reserve members called up for combat or emergency active duty. State grants to veteran’s rehabilitation facilities were increased. Funding was continued for emergency health care and housing grants for veterans. The Minnesota National Guard’s tuition reimbursement program is now increased to a 100 percent rate at any Minnesota public college or university.

I was very proud of what our state did for veterans during the last legislative session, but it can’t stop there. Current events show that over the next few years more and more veterans will need our help. They’ve earned and deserve all the support we can give them. While some federal veteran’s benefits are being cut, we must continue to do as much as we can for veterans and military members on the state level. This is the least we can do to say, “Thank you.”

This Veteran’s Day, I also hope you’ll join me in extending a sincere thank you to all of the veterans in the Maplewood and Oakdale area. My father was a veteran of World War II, so I know how much those expressions of gratitude mean. I often go to the Veterans Day program at Carver School in Maplewood, where veterans and military members are acknowledged publicly. If you can’t make it to a public event, please ask the veterans you know about their experiences and thank them for the sacrifices they made for our country.

Please feel free to contact me about this or any other issue facing the state. I can be reached at the Capitol at 296-7807, by e-mail at rep.nora.slawik@house.mn and by mail at 357 State Office Building, 100 MLK Boulevard, St. Paul MN 55155.

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