February 20, 2020 at 2:40 p.m.
The VSO said an upcoming guest speaker he has slated for North Branch is an expert on VA contracted nursing facilities. Not all coffee talk topics are geared toward older vets, though. The largest age group of veterans in Chisago County are in the 35 to 54 year old category, at 1,196, he reports.
The next largest contingent is 65 to 74 years (1,021) then 75 and older (775) There’s a total of 3,956 veterans in Chisago County.
Other speakers have come to the North Branch Legion coffee talks to share about equine therapy, explain Let’s Go Fishing opportunities, and talk about the Veteran Campground outside of Marine, Home Health Care and assorted areas of interest. When he started the coffee talks Brown was concerned there would be a shortage of guest speakers, but that hasn’t been a problem. Brown said, “We have organizations calling asking if they can come and visit.”
Brown plans to meet this year with area high school graduates who are entering the military. He wants to discuss life in the military and go over some steps they recruits need to take, to ensure benefits and other program availability for them upon leaving service.
There is a new veterans van on the road for transporting clients for care to both the VA in Minneapolis and St Cloud. Brown said the van is “awesome” and everybody is very thankful.
Van trips to the main VA are Tuesdays and Thursdays. The trip to St. Cloud is Wednesday based on demand.
The federal government distributed benefits to Chisago County in the form of pension, education, rehabilitation, and surviving spouse benefits totalling $18.4 million in Fiscal Year 2018. Add medical care and the Veterans Administration expenditures annual sum is $33.7 million, he said.
A few special assistance programs like MN State Soldiers’ Assistance Program aided in dental care and optical needs for county veterans, totaling $27,832.
The MACV (assistance council non-profit) provided another $8,000 for help with emergency rent and utilities bills for 10 vets and their families here.
In a related matter: Dist. 39A Representative Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, recently celebrated with airport and veterans’ group officials the re-opening of the Armed Forces Service Center at MSP. The airport facility got a facelift and Dettmer co-authored the legislation setting aside the project funding. The center is quiet lounge, away from the main airport bustle, where active duty and retired military servicepersons can relax and refresh.
Rep. Dettmer also celebrated a ribbon cutting for the renovations recently completed on the Veterans Truss Bridge in Minneapolis.