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We have a moral obligation to take care of veterans

At the meeting of the northern Minnesota veterans home on Saturday, there was substantial discussion of bills introduced in the Minnesota House of Representatives that would restrict, limit or disqualify services to veterans and their spouses if these bills in their present form would be enacted into law. Our local legislators, Reps. John Persell and Sen. Tom Saxhaug, were in attendance and indicated support of our initiatives and understanding of the plight veterans would face if the bills cited were to be enacted.

I must denounce the proposals contained in the language of these bills in the strongest possible terms: Former prisoners of war, Purple Heart recipients and veterans with a service-connected disability rating of 70 percent or higher are moved to the "top of the list" by this proposed language. Certainly we admire and highly respect veteran recipients of Purple Heart and other honors. But veterans' spouses, now having equal access to state veterans homes as first come, first served would be knocked down in the priority order of the proposed bill language.

This ill-conceived bill language creates winners and losers. It flies in the face of the moral obligation society has to take care of military Veterans, and surely, spouses of military veterans, who can be found to have greater need of service than some veterans who would get priority over them.

It is my belief that the United States of America must fully honor the moral obligation of taking care of its veterans and their families. We heavily invest in human services programs to help sustain the needy. It is incomprehensible to me that bill language supported by some legislators gives priority where veterans better fortified with resources would move ahead by being put at the front of the line of veterans and families of greater need.

I am trusting that our local legislators in their diligence and study of the ill-begotten bill language I refer to are among fellow legislators who have thoroughly studied the content and context of these bills, and who are strongly oppositional to any such language being put into law.

Certainly it's always about money, but money must be found to care for those who honor us with their military service, and who must be cared for as is their earned right to fully expect.

Joe Vene

Beltrami County Commissioner

Chair, Northern Minnesota Veterans Home Task Force