Those who’ve raised their hand to serve our nation deserve the best care and services our nation and state can provide. As a retired command sergeant major in the Minnesota National Guard, the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in Congress, and the top Democrat on the U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Tim Walz knows this better than anyone. While the Federal Government shoulders the primary responsibility for providing veterans benefits, health care and services through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the state of Minnesota provides important and critical services to Minnesota veterans and their families as well. That is why the WalzFlanagan ticket developed, in coordination with Minnesota veterans and their advocates, the One Minnesota Veterans’ Opportunity and Care Plan.
The One Minnesota Veterans’ Opportunity and Care Plan will help make Minnesota a national leader in state-provided care and services for veterans. The One Minnesota Veterans’ Opportunity and Care plan has three main components: Improving Care and Opportunity, Honoring Families, and Building Coalitions.
Reinvigorating State Veterans Homes: Veterans homes provide long-term care services for Minnesota’s veterans. As Governor, Tim will protect and expand the services of Minnesota Veterans Homes by:
- Funding the continued renovation and modernizing of current facilities. This will protect the health and safety of residents and improve their quality of life.
- Opening as many as three new veterans homes in Minnesota. This will be done by building off the partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and local communities who are fundraising and building local support. Governor Dayton and the State Legislature allocated funding for these new facilities in May 2018.
- Prioritizing adequate funding to ensure all veterans homes are fully staffed and are able to provide the care the resident-veterans have earned and deserve. Expanding Access to Veterans Courts: Veterans Courts are a specialty court that works to hold veterans who commit crimes accountable, but also to ensure they get necessary treatment for addiction and psychological trauma they may have endured while serving. As Governor, Walz will expand access to these courts to provide diversion and treatment options for U.S. military veterans who are struggling with addiction and serious mental illness.
Increasing Funding for County Veterans Service Officers (CVSOs): CVSOs mission is to work one-on-one with Minnesota veterans and their families to help them apply for and obtain the benefits to which they are entitled, including assisting with suicide prevention education and outreach for veterans suffering from PTSD and addiction issues. Tim knows the support CVSOs provide is critical and as Governor, Walz will work to provide additional support for County Veterans Service Officers by:
- Tripling county funding (a typical rural county gets $10,000 from the state for training and outreach);
- Cutting red-tape by streamlining the paperwork to maximize CVSO impact and effectiveness;
- Meeting the needs of Native American veterans who live on tribal lands and face unique challenges interfacing with the federal and state government.
Increasing Quality of Life for Disabled Veterans: Disabled veterans currently only receive a discount on hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses if their service-connected disability rating is 100% or more. As governor, Walz would work to lower the threshold so that more disabled veterans can enjoy the great outdoors and improve their quality of life.
Partnering with Labor: Ensuring veterans can find a job and provide for their families is critical. That is why as Governor, Tim Walz will partner with labor and other private organizations to ensure programs that connect veterans with good paying jobs, like Helmets to Hardhats, are getting the support they need to succeed.
Providing for Surviving Spouses: Currently, the Homestead Market Value Exclusion for surviving spouses is capped at 8 years. As Governor, Tim Walz would make this exclusion permanent by eliminating the eight-year cap. This change would allow the surviving spouse to receive the exclusion until they remarry, sell, transfer or otherwise dispose of the property.
Protecting Military Beneficiaries: As Governor, Tim Walz would crack down on bad actors trying to scam people out of money in the name of helping veterans and active military personnel. He would do this by:
- Prohibiting a party from entering or attempting to enter into an agreement with a military beneficiary if that beneficiary assigns pay or other benefits to third party in a manner that violates federal law.
- Protecting Veterans and beneficiaries from giving a source of income (i.e. pension) to bad actors like predatory lenders.
State Veterans Cemeteries: Ensuring each and every eligible Minnesota veteran and their family has the opportunity to be buried in such a cemetery if they choose honors the service and sacrifice of our veterans and their family. As Governor, Tim Walz will build off his work in Congress helping to start the Veterans Cemetery in Preston, MN by protecting and expanding the services of the Minnesota State Veterans Cemeteries.
Veterans Advisory Council and Inter-agency Roundtable Meeting: Tim Walz or a member of his administration will convene a quarterly meeting and invite representatives of local, county, state and federal governments— along with the private sector and veterans’ advocates—to join him in collaborating around how we can continue to improve our advocacy on behalf of Minnesota’s veterans. The purpose will be to share best practices, identify any holes in services and benefits, and develop solutions.