Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 9/7

Sep 7, 2012 Issues: Veterans

Dear Friends,

This week there were some developments important to our servicemembers and veterans.  Next week the Military Veterans' Caucus will host a briefing on traumatic brain injuries, and the VA recently celebrated the success of the Vets Retraining Assistance Program.  Four days ago, we recognized all the hard working Americans of this country as we celebrated Labor Day.  Finally, this newsletter will also bring to your attention the work of the Bemidji Community Arts Council, Inc., an organization which recently received a loan from the USDA for expansion.


Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Military Matters


Military Veterans' Caucus Hosts NFL Commissioner and US Army General for Traumatic Brain Injuries Briefing

As co-chair of the Military Veterans’ Caucus, I am happy to join my fellow caucus members in welcoming NFL Commissioner Goodell and Army Vice Chief of Staff General Austin to discuss Traumatic Brain Injuries in a briefing next Wednesday, September 12.  Too many of our nation's war heroes and sports heroes experience similar head injuries.  I am happy to join with the NFL and the US Army in their initiative to bring a discussion about head injuries into the mainstream so we can increase awareness and education.  I look forward to a dialogue on how we can work to improve federal policy and where we can form better partnerships with the private industry.


Vets Retraining Assistance Program

Last week the VA announced that they have filled 36,000 of the 45,000 job training openings.  These openings are available through the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), created by the VOW to Hire Heroes Act which I supported. An additional 55,000 openings will be available October 1, 2012.  VRAP provides up to $1,473 a month in GI Bill benefits for those taking full-time courses to learn the skills necessary to land a job. I encourage veterans eligible to apply online. Click here for more information:


Labor Day

Since 1894, the first Monday in September has been set aside as a national tribute to the contributions of hard working Americans who continue to strengthen our Nation.  The first Labor Day was celebrated over a decade earlier in New York City, but the holiday quickly caught on across the United States.  Labor Day is now also associated with the large parades and festivals held in towns across America.  It is especially important during these difficult times that we recognize the strength and struggles of the American worker.


Farm Bill Update

Congress returns next week for eight days of work following the August recess. I’m hopeful that we will find a way to move forward and pass a five-year farm bill during this time. As you may recall, the House of Representatives adjourned last month without considering the bipartisan five-year farm bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee (read my floor speech before Congress adjourned). I’m continuing to urge House Leaders to bring the bill to the floor so we can pass it before the current farm bill expires September 30. 


Bemidji Community Arts Council, Inc. Receives USDA Loan

The USDA recently announced that the Bemidji Community Arts Council, Inc. (BCAC) will be receiving Rural Development funds to purchase a new building to house their organization.  BCAC is a non-profit arts organization that serves the community and surrounding region through hosting exhibits and arts education.  With an emphasis in visual arts, they also explore a variety of projects that include collaboration with music and spoken word.  BCAC hosts exhibits all year long, and also hosts a retail shop where local artists can sell their work.  The artists supported by events this organization hosts range from their 5th Grade Invitational for community youth to a National Ceramics Competition.  The loan will allow the BCAC to acquire a larger building so they can continue to expand and grow.  The organization has enjoyed high demand from the community for arts education in particular, but their current location is in a Carnegie library building which does not have the space or handicap accessibility to meet the needs of visitors.  I congratulate the Bemidji Community Arts Council, Inc. on this recent announcement and am excited to see what lies ahead for this organization.  To learn more about the BCAC, visit


Historical Mural in Marshall

"Pioneers Arriving in Marshall by Wagon Trail"
Artist Henry S. Holmstrom, oil on canvas, ca. 1938
Mural in Marshall Post Office
Photo courtesy of Smithsonian American Art Museum

In many post offices across the United States, folks walk past murals that depict scenes from America's history and way of life.  Many of these post offices were constructed in the 1930s as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal which sought to provide work for all Americans, including artists.  Part of the reason for placing these murals inside public buildings as decoration was that the art could be made accessible to all people.