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      Commonsense Reforms for Minnesota Veterans

      Posted on November 12, 2013 at 8:00 AM

      Nearly 400,000 military veterans call Minnesota home. We are proud to have them. Our veterans have bravely answered the call to service. From the Battle of Gettysburg to Iraq and Afghanistan, Minnesotans have fought to protect our country and our freedoms. Many of Minnesota’s veterans don’t stop serving when they leave the military either.

      In 2013, Governor Mark Dayton signed new legislation to help our veterans make the transition. The new reform makes it easier for active duty service members to transition into jobs on the police force. The bill allows military service members to take a police officer reciprocity exam while they are on active duty. Previously, service members were only allowed to take the reciprocity exam after they were honorably discharged. This change allows men and women in the Armed Forces to move into civilian service without a long delay in employment.

      This is not just an abstract problem either. For 20 years, David Thompson was a military police officer. Recently, he decided to retire from the military and seek a civilian police position. David was studying for the reciprocity exam as this new law went into effect. And because of the change, he didn’t have to wait until he officially retired from the military to take the exam – helping him get a new job.

      Just a few weeks ago, David started his new job as chief of police in the City of Howard Lake, Minnesota. If it hadn’t been for this simple legal reform, he wouldn’t have passed the reciprocity test in time to take the Howard Lake position. And without this new job, David would have been forced to move his family out of state to find work.

      Luckily, because of this commonsense reform signed by Governor Dayton, David has a great new job just 15 miles from his hometown of Watertown. Governor Dayton is committed to helping every Minnesota veteran smoothly transition into civilian life with the services they have earned.

      During the 2013 legislative session, the Governor signed legislation that included the following for veterans:
      • Minneapolis Veterans Home. The budget includes $18.9 million in the bonding bill to complete Phase 3 of the Minneapolis Veterans Home replacement project. With this state funding, the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs hopes to leverage $35.2 million in federal funds through a competitive grant process and will provide high-quality skilled nursing services for Minnesota’s veterans.

      • Expansion of the Minnesota GI Bill. With an additional $1 million investment, the Minnesota GI Bill program will expand to include all generations of veterans – not just those serving on or after 9/11. This expansion will help ensure all Minnesota veterans have access to the education and training they need to get good-paying jobs.

      • One-on-One Help for Veterans. The budget provides $2 million in increased grant funding for County Veteran Services Offices, which help veterans and their families obtain the benefits and services they earned through military service.

      • Proper Burial for Military Veterans. Governor Dayton is committed to ensuring all veterans who request funeral honors receive them. For that reason, this budget includes $400,000 in permanent funding for the Honor Guard Program, which supports veterans and their families by providing military funeral honors earned through their service and sacrifice.

      • Addressing Veteran Homelessness. This budget includes $500,000 in increased grant funding for the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans, which works in collaboration with community organizations to help veterans and their families who are experiencing homelessness.