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Scotty Allison: Thank a veteran on Nov. 11

Veterans Day is almost here again. On Nov. 11, our nation will once again recognize the many sacrifices that our veterans have made to our country. Throughout our region, I hope each of you will take a moment to thank each veteran you know for their service. With more than 3,200 living in Beltrami County, it should not be too hard to find a veteran.

According to the Veterans Administration, more than $22.9 million was provided in education, medical care and compensation/pension benefits in 2012 to our county veterans. This is not an insignificant amount of money and recognizes our nation’s commitment to local veterans.

Last month, it was announced that the Department of Veterans Affairs had provided a $10 million grant covering all of the costs to build a Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Preston, Minn. Along with Little Falls, we now have two state Veteran Cemeteries.

Recently, the audiologist who used to take appointments at the Bemidji VA Outpatient Clinic retired. As a result, if you need to make an audiology appointment, you must call the Fargo VA Medical Center at (800) 410-9723 and dial extension 9-3748.

Other news regarding the Bemidji VA Outpatient Clinic, which can be reached at 755-6360, is there will be two new doctors and two nurses on the staff. Additionally, they will be conducting a flu clinic from Oct. 15 to Nov. 15. If you want a flu shot, it will be best to go there in the afternoons as the mornings can be quite busy and you might have a long wait.

For veterans that are in need of transportation within Beltrami County, we do have tokens available to ride the Paul Bunyan Transit System. If you want to be picked up and returned to your home, and if you give us enough time, we can mail you tokens or you can pick them up at the office. You still have to set up an appointment for the ride with Paul Bunyan at 751-8765. If you are unable to use the public transportation system, we may still be able to help. Call us and we will see about arranging a ride depending on your situation. However, we need at least 96 hours to set this up.

Our local Disabled American Veterans Chapter provides weekly transportation service from Bemidji to the Fargo VA Medical Center. The service runs on Wednesday or Thursday on alternate weeks. You can call 444-8758 for more information. Additionally, the chapter is always looking for volunteer drivers. If you have the time and want to help veterans, this might be right up your alley. If you have an interest, please call 243-2663.

Don’t forget, if you have any questions regarding veteran benefits, please call the County Veterans Service Office at (218) 333-4177/4178.

SCOTTY ALLISON is the Beltrami County Veterans Service Officer