Photo Credit: Minnesota National Guard.
Providing military funerals is one way we show our gratitude to those who, in times of war and peace, have faithfully defended our country. This year, Governor Mark Dayton and the legislature provided new funding for the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs’ funeral honor guard.
In recent years, funding for the honor guard has wavered. In 2011, the guard wasn’t funded and was only continued by shifting resources from other Veterans Affairs’ resources. Veterans regularly cite the funeral honor guard as one of the top benefits of military service making continued support for this program all the more essential.
|Denny Christiansen, a veteran of the U.S. Army|
Minnesota is home to nearly 400,000 veterans and Governor Mark Dayton is committed to honoring the service and sacrifice of each one. This year, the Governor and the DFL legislature focused on increasing access to:
Access to Jobs and Education
Governor Dayton’s budget increases access to good job opportunities and affordable education to help our veterans successfully transition into civilian life. To help Minnesota veterans find employment, the new budget includes new tax credits to encourage businesses to hire disabled or unemployed veterans. And to better support small businesses owned by veterans, legislation passed that allows local governments to offer bid preferences to veteran-owned businesses.
The new state budget also helps veterans interested in getting additional education. Improvements to the Minnesota GI Bill http://www.ohe.state.mn.us/mPg.cfm?pageID=1803 will help all veterans and the families of those killed in the line of duty attend colleges and universities.
Safe, secure housing
A 2009 study confirmed that Minnesota has hundreds of homeless veterans. The Governor’s budget increases funding for the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans http://www.mac-v.org/ (MCAV) to ensure that Minnesota veterans have access to safe and secure housing. The MCAV assists homeless veterans and those in danger of becoming homeless.
Veterans’ homes are critical to addressing homelessness as well. The budget allocates $20.4 million to create 93 permanent rental housing units for veterans who have experienced homelessness. Additionally, it funds improvements for the Minneapolis, Fergus Falls, Silver Bay, and Luverne veterans’ homes.
Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs unveiled a newly redesigned website.In our continuing effort to be in the forefront of providing the best service and care to our state’s Veterans, the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs unveiled a newly redesigned website. Nearly 370,000 Veterans call Minnesota home and they can now access information through this comprehensive and exciting new resource at MinnesotaVeteran.org.
Nearly 400,000 veterans call Minnesota home. Their commitment to service and their personal sacrifices have earned them the right to education, opportunities, and benefits.
Governor Dayton’s budget seeks to underscore the service these men and women have given to our country and our state through GI Bill expansion, increased veteran services funding to secure benefits, Honor Guard preservation, and Health Care IT infrastructure improvements to raise the quality of care for our veterans to the highest degree.
The men and women of our armed forced have invaluable skills, skills the state of Minnesota looks to preserve and foster. The funds allocated in the budget invest in our veterans, help create a better Minnesota, and help veterans succeed.
» $1 Million to Expand the Minnesota GI Bill. The Governor’s budget expands the Minnesota GI Bill program to all generations of veterans, not just those serving on or after 9/11. This expansion will ensure all Minnesota veterans have access to the education and training they need to get good paying jobs.
» $1 Million for County Veteran Service Office Grants. The Governor’s budget provides increased grant funding for County Veteran Services Offices, which help veterans and their families obtain benefits and services earned through military service.
» $5 Million for Health Care IT Improvement. The Governor’s budget invests in IT infrastructure upgrades at the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. This investment will allow the department to achieve industry standards in delivering high-quality health care to Minnesota veterans and ensure their safety.
» $400,000 for Honor Guards. The Governor’s budget includes $400,000 in permanent funding for the Honor Guard Program, which supports veterans and their families by providing military burial honors earned through their service and sacrifice. Governor Dayton is committed to ensuring all veterans who request funeral honors receive them.
» $200,000 for the Gold Star Program. The Governor’s budget includes $200,000 in permanent funding for the Gold Star Program, which supports the families of those service members who lost their lives in combat as they heal from their loss.
» $425,000 for new State Veterans Cemetery in Fillmore County. The Governor’s budget includes start-up and ongoing funding for a new state veterans cemetery in Fillmore County, opening in 2015. This State Veterans Cemetery will provide burial space for nearly 40,000 veterans. Governor Dayton believes every veteran deserves a dignified final resting place.