Veterans budget agreement invests millions in supportive services, honors veterans legacies

A bipartisan agreement has been reached on a two-year veterans budget. When passed, the funding will help servicemen and women in their transition home with comprehensive services while recognizing their sacrifices with three designated days to bring awareness.

“Respecting and honoring Minnesota’s veterans is a driving force and a responsibility that I take with utmost seriousness,” said Senator Bruce Anderson (R-Buffalo), chair of the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. “When our servicemen and servicewomen complete their commitment to our country, it is our job to support them during their transition home. That means providing opportunities, mental health assistance, and other social services, which is what we accomplish with this budget agreement.”

In addition to funding the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Military Affairs, the budget also includes an investment in Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota’s C.O.R.E program, which supports military members, veterans, and their families by providing counseling, case management, outreach, referral, and education services. The budget also includes funding for Sustain Reintegration Programs as well as new enlistment incentives.

“I served alongside some of the bravest people I have ever met during my time in the Navy, Air Force Reserves, and Air National Guard, and so honoring the sacrifices and commemorating the legacies of America’s servicemembers is a deeply personal mission,” added Senator Anderson. “To me, this isn’t just a chance to remember challenges our veterans have overcome in the past, but also an opportunity to bring awareness to the struggles that veterans face today.”

The legislation establishes ‘POW and MIA Recognition Day’ and ‘American Allies Day’, acknowledging the sacrifice made by many Minnesota veterans and those who fought alongside them. The bill also establishes a ‘Veterans Suicide Awareness Day’ to help bring light to the heartbreaking crisis the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says takes the lives of 20 veterans a day.

Finally, veterans housing remains a priority of the Senate. Last session, Senate Republicans authorized $32 million for the construction of three new veterans homes – one each in Preston, Montevideo, and Bemidji. The homes will support about 200 beds for Minnesota veterans. Senate Republicans continue to advocate for those homes by working with federal officials to help secure final approval.