Focus on improving veterans benefits

Published 11:01 am Sunday, June 26, 2016

The chairman of the Minnesota Veterans Affairs division said Friday there were a lot of positive bills passed for veterans in the 2015-16 biennium.

District 39A Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, spoke of the accomplishments at the Albert Lea American Legion in a discussion with District 27A Rep. Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, and area veterans.

Dettmer cited veterans benefits bills that passed in the biennium, such as excluding military retirement pay from state income taxes, additional funding for the State Soldiers Assistance Fund, making it easier for National Guard members deployed by the governor to vote and other measures.

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Dettmer said his bipartisan committee aims to tackle veterans issues with neither a Republican or Democratic slant.

“That’s the way it should be,” he said.

Dettmer spent the first half hour of the event discussing positive developments for veterans, followed by a question and answer session with the veterans in attendance. He then read a poem that described the importance soldiers have had on society.

Dettmer — a veteran and former national champion in wrestling — said he learned from his father the importance of honoring veterans, noting he thinks having more veterans makes the state a better place.



Bennett said she wanted veterans to know the good provisions the Legislature has passed into law the last couple years, noting the event also gave them a chance to honor the veterans and say thank you for their service.

Bennett, who said she felt emotional at times during the service, said she felt thankful for the sacrifices veterans have made. She said some veterans sacrificed their lives and others sacrificed their family lives to serve.

“I know what they sacrificed,” she said.

Other measures cited as successes by Dettmer included $17 million in increased funding for the VA and state veterans homes, funding for the study of unmet mental health needs, establishing a Military Spouses and Families Day, a memorial to the state’s Medal of Honor winners on Capitol grounds and other measures.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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