Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 11/8

Nov 8, 2013 Issues: Defense and National Security


Walk of Flags at the Fergus Falls City Hall honoring Veterans

Dear Friends,

This week we honor and salute our veterans and military heroes who sacrificed so much to defend our country. On Veterans Day, cities across Minnesota will host special events as communities come together to honor those soldiers who were killed in action but remain close to our hearts. If you want to get more involved, attend an event, volunteer, or help a veteran share their story, important resources are below. And when you see a soldier in uniform or a veteran this week, give them special thanks. Thank you to all Americans who serve our great Nation in uniform.

Sincerely,

Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

A Veterans Day Tribute

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of nominating Montevideo veteran Orice Larson for the Patriot Award. This honor was awarded to Mr. Larson for his service to our country in World War II, and for his dedication to serving veterans in his community for many decades following his military service.

This award is granted by the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP), a program that encourages safe education and handling of firearms. I was proud to be a part of the presentation of this award to Orice, who served our country in World War II as a Supply Sergeant for 179th Infantry. His unit served in the Battle of the Bulge and infiltrated the Eagles Nest, Hitler’s final stronghold at the end of the war.

Orice’s life has been full of colorful anecdotes. Since his retirement from the service, he has been a devoted member of veterans organizations. He served in numerous roles as a member of the American Legion, the Disabled American Vets, and as a Commander, Service Officer, and Chaplain to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

As part of his award from the CMP, Orice was given an antique M1 Garand Rifle, which turned out to be the exact same model rifle he carried with him in World War II. I'm proud to honor veterans and heroes like Orice and will be forever grateful for their service to our Nation.

Our country's veterans are continuing to return from service with pressing needs. I am committed to making sure that veterans have timely access to benefits they have earned, and I am frustrated by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) backlog of claims for disability compensation.

As a result of the recent government shutdown, veterans experienced further delays in the processing of their disability claims.  Survivors and family members suffered the added pain of having to wait to bury their loved ones in National Cemeteries.  Outreach and public engagement efforts were suspended, leaving vulnerable veterans unaware of benefits and services when they may need them the most.

The one thing that wasn't affected by the government shutdown was veterans' health care.  VA hospitals, medical centers and clinics remained fully operational.  Inpatient and outpatient care, surgeries, prescriptions, mental health, nursing homes and special health care services for women weren't affected by the lapse in appropriations. 

Why is this?  Because medical care accounts are funded through an advanced appropriations mechanism that puts the necessary funding in place two-years in advance As a result, the failure to pass appropriations in a current year does not impact veterans’ health benefits and services.  Nearly ninety percent of VA discretionary funding is for veteran health care, and is protected under this advanced appropriation mechanism.

That's why I support and asked House Leadership to bring up for a vote H.R. 813, which extends the advanced appropriations mechanism to include the remaining VA’s discretionary accounts. 

My unwavering commitment is founded on a solemn promise to put veterans first. It's the least we can do.

Appleton’s Streets of Honor

Appleton-native Major General Robert P. Miller returned home after serving our country overseas and conceived a plan to honor fallen soldiers from WWII to the present day. He noticed that the number of streets and avenues in Appleton came close to matching the number of soldiers from Appleton that were killed in WWII. After being elected Mayor of Appleton, he decided to rename the streets in honor of Appleton natives who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation.

Today thirty-four streets wind through town and provide a constant reminder of the debt that we owe those who wore the uniform over the decades. Rooney Avenue is named for Staff Sgt. Robert Rooney who was killed in action in Africa. East Schlieman Avenue is named for Private First Class Max Schlieman who was killed in the Battle of the Bulge. South Nelson Street is named for Kenny Nelson who was killed on Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion. Gunderson Avenue is named for Thomas Gunderson who was killed in Vietnam. Most recently, West Lhotka Avenue is for Sergeant Jesse Lhotka who was killed in Baghdad in 2005.

Join Your Community on Veterans Day

If you would like to attend an event or volunteer in your area for Veterans Day, please click the following for events happening all over Minnesota: MN Veterans Day.

ROTC Update

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When the North Dakota State University ROTC program was selected for potential closure, Senators Klobuchar and Franken and I immediately expressed our concern. This ROTC program is also comprised of students from Minnesota State University-Moorhead and Concordia College, and closing this program would deny an important opportunity for young men and women in the 7th District to train in this program which ranks among the top in the nation. We urged the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, to reconsider this proposed closure. The Army has decided to reverse their decision, keeping the program in operation for at least the next two years. This is a victory for western Minnesota, and I am happy that the North Dakota State University ROTC program will continue.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

A group of Vietnam veterans came together to create the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc. (VVMF) in 1979 to raise funds for a Memorial that would recognize all who served during the Vietnam War. A year later, President Jimmy Carter signed legislation to provide enough land to build the Vietnam Memorial. After the VVMF raised enough funds to build the Wall, construction got under way and was dedicated on November 13, 1982. There are 58,286 names listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial located near the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The names are listed chronologically by date of casualty, and when you visit the wall there are printed registries available at each end of the Wall. Walking by all the names engraved on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a powerful and special experience.

To search for a name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial click here.

Marine Corps 238th Birthday

November 10th is the 238th anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps. The United Sates Marine Corps has proudly served our great nation since 1775 with unfailing valor. For the past 238 years, the Marines have succeeded in every way possible and continue to protect our nation.

We honor their selfless service to the Nation. To their loved ones who endure the many difficulties that come with being part of the Marine family, I want to extend my sincerest thanks for all you have done and all you continue to do.

To listen to the Marine Corps Official Hymn, click here.

The Library of Congress is collecting and preserving firsthand accounts of American war veterans so their stories are available to future generations. American soldiers and citizens who actively supported the war cause are encouraged to talk about their experiences with personal narratives, sharing correspondence like letters, postcards, and person diaries, and showing photographs or drawings from their time in war. The U.S. Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000 after receiving unanimous support.

The Veterans History Project’s webpage provides a VHP Field Kit so family members and friends can interview a veteran they know who was involved in War World I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, and the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.

Please click here to get your own VHP Field Kit if you would like to interview and document the story of a veteran you know.

Veterans Small Business Week

Here’s some information that was recently released by the U.S. Small Business Administration to kickoff Veterans Small Business week:

Veterans Small Business Week is an initiative on the part of SBA to reach out to veteran entrepreneurs and small business owners.  Veterans Small Business Week will be held from November 4 to 11 and is part of SBA’s work throughout the year to make sure our nation’s veterans have the tools and capital they need to start or grow a business.

During Veterans Small Business Week, SBA staff all across the country will be working with partner organizations on educational efforts, mentoring, and trainings for veterans.  SBA provides veterans access to business counseling and training, capital and business development opportunities through government contracts. The Minnesota District Office will be working with the Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) TSES Programs, the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), and SCORE on November 16 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the VAMC, 1st floor auditorium, One Veterans Drive, Minneapolis.  To register, send an email to govets@comcast.net and leave your name, phone, and type of business you want to start or have already started.

SBA currently engages veterans through its 68 local SBA district offices, 15 Veterans Business Outreach Centers nationwide, its partnership with 63 Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) with over 900 outreach locations, and 12,000 SCORE volunteers. Each year SBA helps more than 200,000 veterans, service-disabled veterans and reservists.  To learn more about additional opportunities for veterans available through the SBA, please visit the website at www.sba.gov/veterans.

This Week in American History

A WWI plaque near the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul

On the 11th hour on the 11th day on the 11th month World War I ends. The four year war began favoring the Allied Powers when American troops joined the western front to push German forces back to its borders in 1918. Over four million men and women, including 57,413 Minnesotans, served from the United States in the Great War. After sustaining heavy losses in manpower and supplies, Germany was forced to surrender and signed the armistice treaty that officially ended military hostilities. An Act of Congress passed in 1938 officially dedicated November 11th as “Armistice Day” to honor the veterans who fought for the United States during World War I. But after World War II, the Act of 1938 was amended to replace the word “Armistice” with “Veterans” so that soldiers of all wars could be recognized and thanked on November 11th.   

“Untitled”

Jesus Pineda (WARREN)

2013 Congressional Art Competition