Ingebrigtsen offers Veterans Day message
Since September 11, 2001, more than 22,000 Minnesota Guard members have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan for extended periods, many multiple times.
When these citizen soldiers leave our local communities, the impact is great. Minnesota provides a disproportionately large number of men and women to our military, and recruiters say our state provides no shortage of men and women ready to sign up for duty.
Each Minnesota veteran is one of millions of American veterans who have set aside their personal lives, their plans and relationships and safety, in order to protect fellow citizens and to ensure the liberty of a country they love.
Unfortunately, our veterans pay a high price on our behalf with their service for this country, and will continue to face social, physical and emotional challenges when they return home.
According to state figures, the unemployment rate for Minnesota veterans who have served since 9/11 is nearly 23 percent, the third highest in the nation. It is almost double the national average and more than three times the state's overall unemployment rate.
Fortunately, many private groups, volunteers and state services are preparing to help them and their families readapt to civilian life. Over the years, the state has created new programs and built on others to help returning vets and their families. We invested in a program to help military veterans reintegrate into society after their service and expanded educational programs for soldiers and their families.
During these hard economic times, we must not forget our veterans who sacrificed so much for us. Our state faced a record deficit last year and tough decisions had to be made. I am proud that we prioritized veterans and ensured they received the benefits they deserve.
We provided more or maintained funding for veterans homes, higher education assistance, and allowed for property tax exemptions for surviving spouses and certain care providers for disabled veterans. I also chief authored bills that allowed for Gold Star license plates eligibility expansion for surviving legal guardians and siblings, Game and Fish lottery and drawing preference provisions for Purple Heart recipients and those with a 100% military service disability and veterans rest camps.
I will continue to fight for veterans receiving the benefits they have earned defending our freedom. Next session, I will look at introducing legislation that will eliminate state taxes on veteran's pensions. We as a state cannot take a share of the money they earned defending our nation.
This Veterans' Day, I urge us all to think of one man or woman we know who has sacrificed everything we take for granted. I offer up my deepest thanks for those who carry more than their share of this country's weight. Without their willingness to carry out the actions our leaders deem necessary, our nation would be less than great.
State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen can be reached at (651) 297-8063, by mail at 303 Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.