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  Volume 4, Issue 4                                                                                                       April 2010

  In this Issue                                    Project New Hope “Minnesota’s Best Kept Secret…”
  •	    Project	New	Hope	“Minne-                   Sarah Graves                                 retreats offer counseling and support
        sota’s	Best	Kept	Secret...”                MDVA                                         to deal with a wide array of issues
  •	    From	the	Desk	of	the	Deputy	                                                            facing these Veterans. Over the past
        Commissioner                               Since 2006, Minnesota based Proj-            four years PNH has expanded to
  •	    Remembering	Heroes:	Medal	                 ect New Hope (PNH) has worked                Manitoba, Wisconsin and New York.
        of	Honor	Day
                                                   to help combat Veterans and their
  •	    Redwood	County	Purchases	
                                                   families heal, have fun and enjoy the        The non-profit organization is cur-
        New	Van	
  •	    CRIPA	Update                               great outdoors.                              rently negotiating retreats in 10 more
  •	    Three	Reappointed	to		                                                                  states and has a goal to host camps
        Veterans	Health	Care																			    PNH offers retreats in a camp-like           in all 50 states by 2015.
        Advisory	Council                           setting for combat Veterans of
                                                                                                continued on page 14
  •	    MDVA	Legislative	Update                    any era and their families. The free
  •	    Special	Social	Security			
        Earnings	for	Military	Service
  •	    VA	Presumtives	for	Iraq,	
        Afghanistan	Service
  •	    VHA	Directive	2009-008
  •	    DAV	Transportation	Program
  •	    Higher	Education	Update
  •	    Veteran-in-the-Spotlight
  •	    New	Minneapolis	VAMC					
        Ambulance	Policy
  •	    MDVA	to	Run	Program	on	
  •	    MDVA	Forum	on	Agent	
  •	    Tax	Assistance	for	Service	
  •	    Program	Aims	to	Support	
        Female	Veterans
  •	    Month	of	the	Military	Child                Project New Hope retreat participants prepare to canoe on Glacier Lake. Photo courtesy
  •	    MDVA	Honored	for	DU							                 Project New Hope.
  •	    Upcoming	Events                                         Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA)
                                                                20 West 12th Street, St. Paul, MN 55155-2071
                                                  Phone (651) 216-2562 • Fax (651) 216-3154 • Website
Volume 4, Issue 4                                                                             2

From the Desk of the Deputy Commissioner
                                         First and foremost, I want to salute the service of Commissioner
                                         Clark Dyrud, who announced yesterday his retirement from state
                                         service. Commissioner Dyrud has been serving this country long
                                         before we knew him as commissioner. His service started in the
                                         jungles of Vietnam. His work with Veterans started in 1973,
                                         and he joined the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs in

                                         He has forged countless relationship for the department and af-
                                         fected thousands of Veterans and families. I am honored to have
                                         been selected to replace Commissioner Dyrud later this month.

                                        This month we also honor the noble sacrifices of former Prison-
                                        ers of War. Men and women across this nation, from the Revo-
                                        lutionary War to the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, have
                                        given the greatest sacrifice, their freedom, so that others may
Michael Pugliese, Deputy Commis-        flourish.
sioner of Programs and Services
                                        This character and spirit have never been more evident than
when Americans have been held captive as prisoners of war. Suffering hunger, fear, isolation and un-
certainty, stripped of their freedom and often subjected to physical and psychological torture, American
POWs nonetheless continued to serve our Nation with honor, dignity, and remarkable courage.

In their valiant defense of liberty, they have stood all too close to the face of tyranny. Since the Civil
War, Minnesotans have risen to the task of serving in the Armed Forces. They continue that valiant ser-
vice today and from their acts of bravery and heroism, we see the power of the American spirit.

The great courage and sacrifices of American Prisoners of War and their families will live in the memory
of Minnesota forever. We will never be able to fully express our gratitude to the service men and wom-
en, and their families for their enduring sacrifices and strength of mind and spirit. Resilient and unwav-
ering, they are an inspiration to all of us. It is because of their sacrifices that we live in freedom today.
Minnesota, along with the rest of the nation, honors Former Prisoners of War.

April 9 is American Ex-Prisoners Of War Day in Minnesota. Please take some time to remember this
exceptional group of Americans.


Michael Pugliese,
Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Commissioner Programs and Services
Volume 4, Issue 4                                                                            3

Remembering Heroes: Medal of Honor Day
March 25 is National and Minnesota
Medal of Honor Day.

The observance allows the country to
take time to remember and honor those
service members who displayed the high-
est level of valor in the face of enemy

Photo: Members of the Korean War
Veterans Association salute the United
States Flag at the Korean War Memorial
on the state capitol grounds in St. Paul.

The group held a ceremony to commem-
orate Medal of Honor Day. During the
ceremony the group paid tribute to Min-
nesotan, Korean War Veteran and Medal
of Honor recipient Lt. Col. John Page.

To learn more about Lt. Col. Page and
other Medal of Honor recipients visit

Redwood County Purchases New Van
Redwood County Veteran Service Office pur-
chased a new van this past month with funding
from the CVSO Enhancement Grant, a com-
petitive grant offered through the Minnesota
Department of Veterans Affairs. “It turned out
better than anyone had thought,” said Martin
Caraway,Redwood County Veteran Service Of-

The van will be used primarily for transporta-
tion of Veterans living in Redwood County to
places like the VA Medical Center in Minneapo-
lis and to events in the community.              Redwood County Veteran Service Office’s new van.
Volume 4, Issue 4                                                                              4

CRIPA Drops Investigation       The U. S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, opened an
                                investigation at the Minneapolis Veterans Home (MVH) in 2008 to
                                 determine if there were any systemic patterns of constitutional defi-
                                  ciencies. Most recently, the Civil Rights of Institutional Persons Act
                                   (CRIPA) team was at the Minneapolis Veterans Home the first week
                                    of December 2009, to follow up on recommendations made during
                                    its February visit.

                                     The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs is pleased to
                                     announce that the U. S. Department of Justice has dropped the
                                      investigation against the State of Minnesota and the Minneapolis
                                       Veterans Home, stating: “Based on our site visit, our experts’
                                       evaluations, and other information we have obtained, we are
 To view the official statement from
                                       pleased to report that we did not uncover a systemic pattern of
 CRIPA visit or
                                       constitutional deficiencies at MVH, and that we are therefore,
 click on the letter above.
                                       closing our investigation.”

Three Reappointed to Veterans Health Care Advisory Council
Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced         Eszlinger Jensen is a retired        of leadership experience in the
the reappointment of Dr. Ken-       colonel with the U.S. Air Force      long-term care and older adult
neth Hughes, Julia Eszlinger        and has experience in both the       services field. Sanford was a
Jensen and Ronald Sanford           military and health care fields.     Chaplain’s assistant in the U.S.
to the Veterans Health Care         A licensed registered nurse,         Army in Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Advisory Council. All three are     she served as the former com-
appointed to four-year terms        mander and chief nurse at the        The Veterans Health Care
that expire January 6, 2014.        109th Aeromedical Evacuation         Advisory Council advises the
                                    Squadron of the Minnesota Air        Minnesota Department of
Hughes is a licensed general        National Guard, Scott Air Force      Veterans Affairs and makes rec-
physician and a certified fam-      Base in Illinois, and Andrews        ommendations on the current
ily physician with experience       Air Force Base in Maryland.          and anticipated future needs
in orthopedic injuries, elder                                            of Veterans information and
care, psychiatric aid and nursing   Sanford is chief operating of-       professional expertise on any
home care. He is a recipient of     ficer of Elim Care, Inc. in Eden     and all aspects of the delivery
both the Bronze Star with Valor     Prairie, a faith-based, non-profit   of quality long-term care to
and Purple Heart awards from        corporation serving older adults     Veterans. The council consists
the U.S. Army, where he served      in Minnesota, North Dakota           of nine members appointed by
as a field medic in Vietnam.        and Iowa. He has over 23 years       the Governor.
  Volume 4, Issue 4                                                                             5

MDVA Legislative Update
Amy Rudolph

The end of March marked the halfway point for
the 2010 legislative session. By all accounts, much
substantial work has been completed. The follow-
ing is a summary of the events of the past month.

Bonding Bill
The final bonding bill contains the following dol-
lars for The Minnesota Veterans Homes:
• $4 million in asset preservation. This money will
be used system-wide for improvements and reno-        Gilbert Acevedo, Deputy Commissioner of Veterans Health
vations at the Homes.                                 Care provides an up data on the Minnesota Veterans
                                                      Homes and Veterans legislative issues during the VFW
• $450,000 to design, construct and furnish a new     Auxiliary Day on the Hill.
enclosure for the front entrance of the Luverne
Veterans Home. The enclosure will provide protection from the elements when loading and unloading

• $9.45 million to remodel Building 16, demolish Building 17’s north wing and design and rebuild a 72
single occupancy bed structure on the Minneapolis campus.

Omnibus Supplemental Budget Bill
Under normal budget circumstances, the supplemental budget bill is used during the off-budget year to
address additional, unanticipated funding needs for state agencies. With the large deficit this year, the
bill had to instead cut more than $300 million in state government spending. It should be noted that the
bill did not cut any current MDVA funding – as per the Governor’s recommendations – and did provide
new, one time funding for the following:

• $100,000 for MACV, and

• $100,000 for Honor Guards.

The bill also transferred $200,000 from the Support Our Troops Account to the C.O.R.E. program, and
repealed language that required specific amounts to be spent on food, pharmaceuticals, fuel and utilities
at the Homes (allowing funds to be co-mingled). MDVA applauds the Legislature and the Governor for
their continued support for Minnesota Veterans!

continued on page 16
Volume 4, Issue 4                                                                               6

                                       VA Presumptives for Iraq, Afghanistan Service
                                       The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is working to
                                       make it easier for Veterans to obtain disability compensation
                                       for certain diseases associated with service in the Persian Gulf
                                       or Afghanistan.

                                       The VA has published a proposed regulation in the Federal
                                       Register that would establish new presumptions of service
                                       connection for nine infectious diseases associated with mili-
                                       tary service in Southwest Asia during the Gulf War, or in
Special Social                         Afghanistan, on or after Sept. 19, 2001.
Security Earnings                      The proposed regulation includes information about long-
for Military Service                   term health effects potentially associated with the nine dis-
                                       eases, including: brucellosis, campylobacter jejuni, coxiella
                                       burnetii (Q fever), malaria, mycobacterium tuberculosis, non-
Some Veterans may be eligible for
                                       typhoid salmonella, shigella, visceral leishmaniasis and West
special extra earnings from the
                                       Nile virus.
U.S. Social Security Administration
(SSA) for military service between     With the proposed rule, a Veteran will only have to show
1957 and 2001.                         evidence of service in Southwest Asia or Afghanistan, and a
                                       current diagnosis of one of the nine diseases.
These extra earnings credits may
help individual Veterans and           Operation Iraqi Freedom Veterans are also eligible for the
service members qualify for Social     VA’s new presumptions. U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs,
Security or increase the amount of     Eric Shinseki, decided to include Afghanistan Veterans in
their Social Security benefit.         these presumptions because of evidence found that these nine
                                       diseases are also prevalent in that country.
Special extra earnings credits are
granted for periods of active duty     Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted over the
or active duty for training. For de-   next 60 days. A final regulation will be published after consid-
tails on credits and extra earnings    eration of all comments.
contact the Social Security Ad-
ministration at 1 (800 )772-1213,      For information about health problems associated with military service
Monday - Friday between 7 a.m.         during operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and En-
and 7 p.m. or visit                    during Freedom visit      Minnesota Veterans are encouraged to speak with their County Veteran
                                       Service Officer for details about filing federal VA claims.

We Want to Hear From You! If you have story ideas, events, would like to nominate a Vet-
eran for the Veteran in the Spotlight column or just have information for the MDVA Minnesota Veteran
newsletter, contact Sarah Graves at or (651) 757-1550.
Volume 4, Issue 4                                                                                  7

VHA Directive 2009-008: Standards for Mental Health Coverage
in Emergency Department and Urgent Care Clinics in VHA Facilities.
This directive that outlines the provisions of safe   care, emergency department, urgent care, ur-
and secure mental health services during all hours    gent care clinic, waiting area (rooms), psychiatric
of operation for Emergency Departments (EDs)          intervention rooms, interview rooms, observation
and Urgent Care Clinics (UCCs) in VHA facilities.     rooms and one-to-one observation.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
recognizes the importance of providing emer-          Along with these definitions, the directive defines
gent and urgent mental health services to patients    several positions within each VHA ED and UCC
seeking or requiring acute psychiatric care in VHA    that are available to ensure mental health needs
EDs and UCCs.                                         are met. These positions include: National Direc-
                                                      tor for Emergency Medicine, Veterans Integrated
In the interest of safety, emergent and urgent        Service Network Director, Facility Director, The
psychiatric care must too be routinely available in   Chief of Staff, the Nurse Executive and the Men-
all VHA EDs and UCCs. Psychiatric Emergency           tal Health Care Line Manager, Facility Chief of
Services (PES) need to be considered an integral      Police and ED and UCC Directors and Managers.
part of ED and UCC services and be readily avail-
able to improve safety and expedite handling of       For the full text of this Veterans Health Administration
these complex and potentially difficult cases.        (VHA) directive visit
This directive offers definitions of: emergency       If you have questions, please call the National Director for
                                                      Emergency Medicine at (202) 461-7120 .

DAV Transportation Program
The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Volunteer Transportation Program is
responsible for providing Twin Cities and St. Cloud Metro Veterans in the who
have no other means of transportation due to financial or medical hard-
ship transportation to and from the Minneapolis and St. Cloud VA Medical

In addition, the program works with county van transportation programs
and other Veterans' organization volunteers to shuttle Veterans to the VA
Medical Centers from outlying counties and communities not reached by the DAV
Transportation Program. In 2009, the DAV Volunteer Transportation Program transported 24,327 Vet-
erans and volunteer drivers drove 1,723,646 miles.

To participate in the program call Steve, Minneapolis VA Transportation Coordinator at (612) 467-2768
or Ken the St. Cloud VA Transportation Coordinator at (320) 252-1670 ext. 6676 or online at:
Volume 4, Issue 4                                                                                        8

Higher Educational Update:
Dakota County Technical College
                                                           Katherine Bachman
                                                           MDVA and
                                                           Gina Boeckermann
                                                           Minnesota State Colleges and Universities

                                                           Aaron Shoemaker was discharged from active
                                                           duty in 1998. In 2008, he was on the brink of los-
                                                           ing his educational benefits. He knew he wanted
                                                           to continue his education, so he looked at Dakota
                                                           County Technical College (DCTC) for a business

                                                       Shoemaker liked the fact that DCTC had an off-
                                                       campus site in Apple Valley, with evening classes
Student-Veteran Aaron Shoemaker (left) and instructor
                                                      for working adults, and the business program he
Scott Gunderson (right).
                                                      was looking for. Shoemaker enrolled in the Man-
agement for Technical Professionals A.A.S. Program at DCTC. After speaking with Scott Gunderson,
an instructor and advisor, Aaron was encouraged to obtain his military transcripts. Shoemaker found
that he was able to transfer 36 military credits as prior learning credits, for technical electives. By trans-
ferring in 36 credits, Shoemaker shaved a year off of college. Receiving a degree has given him the
qualifications to apply for a promotion within his company.

Shoemaker is happy he was able to transfer what he had learned during service to his degree.

“The things you learn from the military are practical work skills, and they most definitely apply to the
civilian work force,” he said.

All Veterans and service members have military transcripts that show their military training and ex-
perience. Some of this training and experience may be accepted by colleges and universities as credits
toward the completion of a degree. However, transfer decisions are determined by individual cam-
puses. If you have questions regarding your VA Educational Benefits, contact your Higher Education
Veterans Program Regional Coordinator. These individuals have a working knowledge of area colleges
and universities and interact with key campus officials to ensure that the Veterans’ needs are met.

The Minnesota Higher Education Veterans Program serves the higher education needs of students who are Veterans,
military members or family members. For information about educational benefits and how to obtain your military tran-
scripts and call 1-888-LinkVet (546-5838) or visit
Volume 4, Issue 4                                                                            9

Veteran in the Spotlight: Capt. Matt Cavanaugh
Sarah Graves

Capt. Matt Cavanaugh graduated from West
Point, completed two tours in Iraq and was
named the 2009 Association of the U.S. Army
Athlete of the Year. Now this highly motivated
solider is literally running around the world to
raise awareness and money to support wounded
U.S. service members.

Cavanaugh, a Minnesota native currently works at
the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and in his spare
time trains and runs endurance events to support
the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) through
the Minnesota based Team Wounded Warrior
Project. In 2009, he logged over 250 miles and
has a goal this season of racing over 300 miles.

The reason Matt runs is a personal one. Dur-            Capt. Matthew Cavanaugh participating in an
ing his deployments he saw many of those in his         Army cross county meet.
command injured in devastating ways. He also            home from a combat zone.
witnessed how the WWP organization assisted
some of these individuals.                              “It was a release. Psychologically, mentally and
                                                        emotionally for me, it was very beneficial and I
“Some soldiers that I served with, subordinates         carried that over when I got back home. Frankly,
of mine, received direct assistance from the orga-      if it wasn’t for that [running] I wouldn’t have
nization. And beyond that, friends of mine from         returned as well as I did,” said Cavanaugh.
West Point are now in leadership positions with
those organizations,” said Cavanaugh.                   During his deployment Cavanaugh received let-
                                                        ters from Tom Cocchiarella, an Air Force Veteran
Running these events pushes him to his physi-           and parent of a friend from his hometown. Coc-
cal, mental and emotional limits. He feels that         chiarella supported him and even sent him run-
through competing in these extreme events he            ning magazines. In the spring of 2008 Matt heard
shows solidarity, if even briefly, with the struggles   about a race called the Transrockies.
of those severely wounded.
                                                        This ultra marathon converses 113 miles through
For Matt, it all started during the end of his          the Colorado Rockies. Matt wanted to run this
second deployment. He began to run and found            race to honor those he served with and he part-
the activity a big stress reliever and he continued     nered with Tom, who offered to find sponsors.
to run after he returned home. He cites run-
ning as a key element of his successful return          continued on page 15
 Volume 4, Issue 4                                                                             10

New Minneapolis VAMC Ambulance Policy
The Minneapolis VA Medical          tus with the local Emergency         ability of a particular service (i.e.
Center (VAMC) will now accept       Medical System (EMS), meaning        specialized medically-monitored
Veteran patients with certain       ambulances went directly to a        intensive care bed) or over-
medical conditions who arrive       community hospital emergency         crowding in the Emergency
by ambulance.                       department where a Veteran           Department.
                                    patient would be stabilized and
In the past, the Minneapolis        then transferred to the VAMC         Veterans may still be diverted to
VAMC was on “divert” sta-           when appropriate.                    the closest medical care facility
                                                                         in cases of immediate life-threat-
                                    Now, a Veteran living in the         ening conditions.
                                    Minneapolis/St. Paul 911 re-
                                    ferral area can be transported       There are exclusions to the
                                    directly to the VAMC, when           policy including burn victims,
                                    medically appropriate. These         pregnancies, multiple traumatic
                                    would include patients who have      injuries and cases requiring fo-
                                    experienced a heart attack or        rensic procedures such as acute
                                    stroke, or a non-critical facture,   sexual assault. For details on
                                    such as breaking a hip in a fall.    this new policy and ambulance
                                                                         service at the Minneapolis VA
                                    Situations may arise when the        Medical Center, call Beneficiary
                                    VAMC would be returned to a          Travel at (612) 467-1396.
                                    “divert” status, such as unavail-

MDVA to Run Program on TPT
The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and tpt public television
recently teamed up on a new project titled, MN Vets – Home & Hope.

This hour-long program will look closely at the challenges facing all of our
Minnesota Veterans, from the Vietnam era to those still serving.

Through powerful images, interview and panel discussion, this program
will also showcase some of the crucial benefits available to Veterans
and their families, including counseling and debt management services
through the C.O.R.E. program, education benefits and the importance
of County Veteran Service Officers. Tune in April 18 at 8 p.m. on tptMN, or April 25 at noon on

tptMN and tptLife have nearly statewide coverage through various cable and satellite services. Visit for information.
 Volume 4, Issue 4                                                                                     11

MDVA Forum on Agent Orange
The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs                “The VA has made many changes in how it is com-
(MDVA) will explore issues surrounding Vietnam              pensating Veterans for Agent Orange exposure.
Veterans, Agent Orange exposure and what ser-               Our goal is to educate the community so Veterans
vices, benefits and financial compensation this             and their families can feel empowered about their
generation earned at a community forum April 21             health and understand how their service may have
at the Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota Center          affected them,” said Aundrey Sanchez, MDVA out-
for Changing Lives, 2400 Park Ave. S. Minneapolis,          reach supervisor and forum coordinator.
MN. Informational sessions will occur on the hour
at 2,4 and 6 p.m. All sessions will contain the same        The U.S. VA has a website dedicated to this issue.
information.                                                Visit for newsletters, fact
                                                            sheets and additional information.
Agent Orange was a herbicide used before and
during the Vietnam War to remove leaves on trees            Minnesota Veterans are encouraged to contact their County
in order to ensure the safety of the U.S. Armed             Veterans Service Office for any questions related to claims
Forces. Over the years, research has shown that             and benefits. Veterans Service Offices are located in each
Agent Orange contains TCDD or dioxin, a chemi-              of Minnesota’s counties and can be contacted through the
cal that is related to many cancers and other health        Government Section of your local telephone book or at
problems. Some of these conditions include type 2  Viet-
diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and more                      nam Veterans and their families may also call the Gulf
                                                            War/Agent Orange Helpline at 1 (800) 749-8387.

Tax Assistance for Service Members
Tax time is fast approaching! Here are some helpful
hints to make the process a little smoother: The U.S.
Armed Forces participates in the Volunteer Income
Tax Assistance (VITA) program and provides free
tax advice, tax preparation, return filing and other tax
assistance to military members and their families.

The Military Family Tax Relief Act of 2003 offers a
number of significant changes benefiting individuals
and families affiliated with the U.S. military. These
benefits include an increase in the death benefit, tax
relief on the sale of a home, reimbursement for cer-
tain travel expenses, filing extensions, academic penalty waivers, and dependent care assistance.

To learn more, visit:,,id=154789,00.html or to locate the nearest VITA site,
call 1 (800) 829-3676.
 Volume 4, Issue 4                                                                                12

Program Aims to Support Female Veterans
                                                        buddies give the Veteran moral support and hope
                                                        to ease the often overwhelming feelings of ner-
                                                        vousness and fear that many women face when
                                                        dealing with medical, emotional or support issues.

                                                        In an effort to show female Veterans they are not
                                                        alone, battle buddies provide a woman with a wide
                                                        range of support options, from attending appoint-
                                                        ments with the Veteran, keeping them company in
Members at the Women Veterans Initiative Working        the waiting room or simply providing transporta-
Group gather for their March meeting                    tion to the appointment. Bahl explains that the
                                                        need for the program is great as many women Vet-
Kate Murray                                             erans feel isolated and alone. “Battle buddies can
MDVA                                                    remove the intimidation and help women come
                                                        forward to receive their benefits,” said Bahl.
Created by the Women Veterans Initiative Working
Group, the new Sister Assister program hopes to         The volunteers are military members, both Veter-
fill a void many female Veterans face when con-         ans and current service members, as well as civil-
fronting medical appointments alone. The pro-           ians. In addition to the “battle buddy” program,
gram is an extension of “She Serves,” a program         “She Serves” offers a monthly “Coffee Talk”
run by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department          evening which provides a comfortable and relaxed
of Minnesota.                                           environment for female service members to con-
                                                        nect with one another. Originally unaware of such
Sister Assister aims to provide advocacy and as-        a space for her, Bahl was delighted when she was
sistance to female Veterans in Minnesota. The mis-      invited to a session by a friend and fellow Veteran.
sion of “She Serves” is to improve the lives and        “As the Department of Minnesota Veterans of
well-being of women Veterans through access and         Foreign Wars ‘She Serves’ Chairman, I thought
innovative programs and services. The program           this would be important to attend to meet other
is the brainchild of Veteran Chantle Wolf, whose        women Veterans and hear their stories so that I
ultimate goal is to make the experiences at the VA      may bring awareness of how the VFW may help
for female Veterans a little less frightening. “We’re   them. I was beside myself,” said Bahl.
really excited about the response to the pro-
gram, we want to bring women into the mix and           The group hopes to expand its support network
give them the support they deserve,” said Jaimie        throughout the entire state in the future as it seeks
Bahl,"She Serves" Chairman and Sister Assister          to make sure no female Veteran ever feels she is
committee member.                                       alone.
The Sister Assister program provides a woman            For more information visit the Women Veterans Initiative
Veteran with a “battle buddy” to accompany her          Working Group on Facebook.
to VA Medical Center appointments. These battle
 Volume 4, Issue 4                                                                              13

 Veteran-on-the-Street: “How can Minnesotans best
 support Veterans of all eras?”
                     “It would be nice to see more businesses offer discounts and specials to service
                     members and their families like they do in other states.”

                     - 1st Lt. Michael Murray, Apple Valley, U.S. Army Veteran.

    “Minnesota is a great place to be a Veteran. But people need to remember that
    regardless of our politics, everyone can agree on showing support and participate
    in programs that make troops feel appreciated and loved.”

    - Joe Gideon, Eagan , U. S. Army Ranger.

                    “It would be great if people could realize just how much we sacrifice. A simple
                    ‘thanks’ to someone in uniform means a lot.”

                    - Luke Johnson, Edina, U.S. Army Veteran.

Month of the Military Child
During the month of April, the State of Min-            as going to school, watching TV and playing with
nesota takes time to recognize the Month of the         friends more difficult. It is estimated that over
Military Child in order to emphasize the                          15,000 children in Minnesota have been
important role military children play                                  affected by a parent’s deployment.
while a parent or important adult
is serving.                                                                 During this month, Governor
                                                                            Tim Pawlenty will send military
Children of service members                                                  children a letter of gratitude
deal with many issues unique                                                  in honor of their service and
to their situation. Some                                                       sacrifice.
move frequently, worry
about a loved one in harm’s                                                     To register a military child to
way or just feel the stress of being separated from     receive a letter from the Governor and for resourc-
a parent for extended periods of time. All of these     es to support military children, visit
issues can make normal childhood activities, such
 Volume 4, Issue 4                                                                                14

                                                       combat Veterans, and the suicide rate for Veterans
                                                       is higher than in the civilian community. We are
                                                       also seeing an increase in disabled Veterans,” said

                                                       All of these factors can stop a family or individu-
                                                       als from functioning in a healthy way. Project
                                                       New Hope’s goal is to offer time and space away
                                                       from the daily grind to prevent and deal with these
                                                       issues in a less stressful environment.
Project New Hope
continued from cover                                   Retreats are staffed with U.S. Department of
                                                       Veterans Affairs counselors. Attendees experience
“I feel that we are Minnesota’s best kept secret for   group and individual sessions on issues ranging
Veterans and their families,” said Bruce Billing-      from relaxation and stress reduction to anger man-
ton, Project New Hope Executive Director and           agement and creative expression. The volunteer
Founder.                                               counselors ensure participants receive follow-up
                                                       after retreats as well. Many of the counselors are
Billington makes this claim based on the success       Veterans themselves, giving them an important
of PNH retreats and the relatively low profile the     insight into the combat experience.
organization maintains. The organization is not
focused on getting recognition, but is focused on      Retreats are held over weekends in a private,
making a positive impact on the lives of those         camp-like setting. The outdoor component is the
who serve this country.                                key to this experience.

“A Veteran had been drinking and had a loaded          “I have seen stats that suggest that 95 percent
pistol and the business card for one of our board      of all Vets do something in the outdoors. My
members on his kitchen table, he thankfully picked     thought about that stat is that it is a means to get
up the business card instead of the pistol. Just       away from things…no stress. People just seem
knowing we gave him an alternative to ending his       to be relaxed and they are able to open up about
life is what we’re all about,” said Billington.        things that they may have never before,” said Bil-
Project New Hope has dozens of success stories
like this of Veterans and their families on the        PNH receives support from many organizations
brink who were able to use the tools and skills        in Minnesota and around the country. One of its
learned at a PNH retreat to regain control of their    strongest supporters is Lions Club International.
lives.                                                 The organization recently honored Project New
                                                       Hope with a third place award in the Lions’ “Best
The free retreats focus on “compassionate under-       New Project in the World” competition. Billington
standing and professional guidance” and are an         and many of his board members are members of
effort to stop negative trends that Billington and     the Lions Club.
his board of directors see plaguing the Veterans
community.                                             For more information visit or call
                                                       (218) 851-5839.
“Twenty-five percent of homeless individuals are
  Volume 4, Issue 4                                                                                15
Veterans in the Spotlight
continued from page 9

Tom raised around $2,500 so Matt could participate
in the race.

After that experience Matt began to consider what
kind of funds the pair could bring in for wounded
Veterans on behalf of WWP. And as Matt recalls
“it all snow-balled from there.”

On Veterans Day 2008 the pair launched Team
Wounded Warrior Project. The first year Matt ran
over 250 miles in various events and raised around        Team Wounded Warrior Project during stage 3 of the
$40,000.                                                  2009 TransRockies ultra marathon in Colorado.
                                                          ful for the large support Minnesota and particularly
Matt encourages Minnesotans to support Veterans
                                                          the Twin Cities community has shown him. This
and service members by finding organizations like
                                                          past St. Patrick’s Day weekend Matt ran the Irish
WWP who can provide proven and needed direct
                                                          for a Day 5K in Minneapolis and held a few fund-
support to Veterans and service members.
                                                          raising events around the Twin Cities. The events
“The VA does a wonderful job, but there is a limit,       pushed Team WWP over their $75,000 fundraising
a cap, they can only go so far and private organiza-      goal. The largest event was held in South St. Paul
tions like this one can extend the reach of the VA        at the South St. Paul VFW. They have now bumped
to do that a little bit more. So that to me is the best   their goal up to $100,000.
way Minnesotans can support,” said Cavanaugh.
                                                          To follow Matt’s journey and donate to the Wounded War-
Even though he runs all over the world, this year         rior Project visit his blog at
running a race in South Africa, Cavanaugh is thank-

MDVA Honored for DU Program
                                            The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and Weber
                                            Shandwick have been honored by the Minnesota chapter of the
                                            Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) with a 2010 Clas-
                                            sics Award.

                                            The award was given for excellence in technical writing for
                                            informational materials produced by MDVA in partnership with
                                            Weber Shandwick for the “DU: What Veterans and Service
                                            Members Need to Know” outreach program. These materials
                                            are used by MDVA to educate Veterans and service members
                                            about Depleted Uranium. For information about the award visit
                                            to learn more about DU.
Volume 4, Issue 4                                                                                         16

MDVA Legislative Update
continued from pages 5

Omnibus Agriculture and Veterans Affairs Policy Bills
The House and Senate both presented their omnibus policy bills the last week of March.
Here are a few highlights from the Senate bill:

• Revision of existing laws relating to county veteran service offices, making the counties directly
responsible for these offices and requiring the Commissioner of Veterans Affairs to provide services,
resources and training to the CVSOs;

• Elimination of a state residency requirement for purposes of eligibility for higher education ben-
efits for the surviving spouse and children of a deceased Veteran who dies as a result of military

• Expansion of current veterans’ cemetery language to include Fillmore County, along with a desig-
nation of the federal reimbursement to go into a special account to be used for the pre-design and
design of the remaining cemeteries.

Highlights from the House Bill:
• Language outlining the proper way to fold the state flag for presentation or display;

• Revision of existing laws relating to county veterans service offices making the counties directly
responsible for these offices and requiring the Commissioner of Veterans Affairs to provide services
and resources to the CVSOs;

• Elimination of a state residency requirement for purposes of eligibility for higher education ben-
efits for the surviving spouse and children of a deceased veteran who dies as a result of military

• Expansion of allowable site locations for new state veterans cemeteries to include northeastern,
southeastern (Fort Ridgely State Park, if feasible) and southwestern Minnesota; and,

• Creation of a report to the Legislature by January 15, 2011, detailing the progress in securing land
for the veterans cemeteries.

For a complete report, as well as up-to-date information on legislative activities, sign up for the MDVA Legislative

   To request alternative formats, please contact us at (612) 728-1287 or or
                             through the Minnesota Relay Service at 1 (800) 627-3529.
Volume 4, Issue 4                                                        17

                5K Run/Walk/Wheel
                  1K Kids Fun Run
                             May 22, 2010
                          Cold Spring, Minn
                       Join us as a Participant,
                       Volunteer or Spectator
                                       Join us at the
                                 Cold Spring Baseball Park
                                 Opening Ceremony - 9:45 am
                                   5K Run/Walk – 10:00 am
                                 1K Kids Fun Run – 11:00 am
                                 Awards Ceremony – 11:30 am
   Freedom Flight will be                                     The MN Patriot Guard
  onsite offering tethered          Lunch and Beverages         will line the start
    rides for a donation                                        and finish lines
                                 For More Information Go To
          Proceeds to Benefit
                             MN Disabled American Veterans
Volume 4, Issue 4                                                                            18

                                      Upcoming Events
Welcome Home Red Bulls Game April 9
 Kick-off the 60-Day Reintegration Weekend for Red Bulls and their families with a night
 of fun at the Swarm game on Friday, April 9. Watch the fast-paced, professional lacrosse
 action in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul! For information on tickets and how to
 support the Red Bulls and their families at the Swarm game call Dayna Hanson at (651)
 312-3466 or by email at

Hastings Veterans Meet & Greet April 10
                Eagles Aeries 2212, Sons of the American Legion, Nelson Lucking American
                Legion Post 47, Lyle Russell Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1210 and its Ladies
               Auxiliaries will host a meet and greet on April 10 for recently returning Operation
                  Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom service members. There will be
                  karaoke and a Veterans grill special. Donations can be made to support program-
                  ming of Minnesota Veteran Family Support. The event will run from 3 p.m. - 7
        p.m. For more information visit or call (612) 282-3482.

 Annual BVL Fundraiser for Veterans April 24
Minneapolis Bowling Council will hold its annual bowling for Veterans fundrais-
er April 24 at New Hope Bowl, 7170 42nd Ave. N. in New Hope. The day will
consist of three games of bowling, raffles, door prizes, a silent auction, music
and more. Check-in is at 11 a.m. and bowling begins at noon; $10 per person in
advance and $15 at the door. To register or for information contact Butch Kes-
leer at (612) 747-9070 or visit

Northeast Veterans Town Halls April 22 & 23
St. Louis County Veteran Service Office will hold two town hall meetings April 22 at the Hibbing
VFW post 704 W. 41st St. in Hibbing; and April 23 at the American Legion Post in Duluth, 5814
Grand Ave. Duluth. at 10 a.m. For more information call (218) 725-5285.

13th Annual Bataan Memorial March May 1
The 1st Battalion, 194th Armor Regiment (CAB) will host the 13th Annual Bataan Memorial March
in Brainerd at 9 a.m., Saturday, May 1. This event is open to all. Participants can enter as individuals
or up to a five person team. The March begins and ends at the Brainerd National Guard Training and
Community Center. This event serves to commemorate those who endured the Bataan Death March
in April 1942. For registration and information e-mail Jamie at

For a complete listing of events across the state of Minnesota, visit

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