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Senator Amy Klobuchar

Working for the People of Minnesota

Veterans

I have always believed that when we ask our young men and women to fight and die for this nation, we make a promise that we will give them the resources they need to do their jobs. We also promise to take care of them when they return home. As a nation, we have an obligation to support those who have sacrificed for us. Today, our veterans need us more than ever.

Doing Right by Our Returning Veterans

Our state office is available to help veterans with benefits and other veterans issues. You can directly contact my state office by calling 612-727-5220 or email me by clicking here.

In years past, veterans like my father could count on their government to stand by them. After World War II, our government adopted the GI Bill to provide health, housing and educational benefits. Just as we did then, we have a responsibility now to ensure fair compensation policies for all veterans, good education benefits, and the health care that they and their families deserve.

Today, our country is in the midst of two wars. Unfortunately , the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs have been slow to adapt support services to meet the demands created by the new type of war our soldiers are fighting, leaving tens of thousands of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with few options for treatment of traumatic injuries or mental health illnesses. I believe we can and must do better.

As Minnesota's U.S. Senator, I have worked to make sure that veterans who have risked their lives for our freedom and security have the resources they need and deserve. I have worked to:

  • Modernize GI Bill benefits. The 21st Century GI Bill, which I cosponsored and which took effect on August 1, 2009, will provide enhanced tuition benefits so that any veteran who serves at least three months on active duty will receive benefits to cover the costs of up to 36 months of higher education, depending on length of service. This critical legislation will help GI Bill benefits keep pace with the soaring cost of college, while ensuring that Guard and Reserve members receive education benefits comparable to those granted to active duty soldiers.
  • Ensure that members of the Minnesota National Guard receive full educational benefits. In 2007, I introduced S.2139, the National Guard and Reserve Educational Benefits Fairness Act, which provides educational benefits to members of the National Guard and Reserve based on the length of their actual active-duty service, rather than based on the service dates printed on their orders. This legislation was in direct response to a situation faced by members of the Minnesota National Guard who were denied full educational benefits due to Army guidelines, despite serving in the unit with the longest continuous deployment of any unit in the Iraq war. I have also worked to successfully include legislation in the FY2010 Defense Authorization bill to ensure that Minnesota National Guard members receive fair compensation for the Post-Deployment Mobilization Respite Absence benefit they are entitled to as a result of their extraordinary, extended service overseas.
  • Help veterans transition back to civilian lives. I introduced the bi-partisan Veterans-to-Paramedics Transition Act, which would help veterans earn professional certification and relieve the shortage of emergency medical personnel, especially in rural areas, by streamlining civilian paramedic training for returning veterans who already have emergency medical experience from the military.
  • Expand the Beyond-the-Yellow-Ribbon program. This program, pioneered by the Minnesota National Guard, helps soldiers make the transition from military to civilian life through counseling and other services. Since 2007, we have been able to secure regular funding through Defense Appropriations bills to extend and expand this program. In addition, we passed legislation to create a national Yellow Ribbon program based on Minnesota's groundbreaking initiative.
  • Improve veterans' health care. I joined my colleagues in supporting record funding increases since 2007 through both regular and supplemental appropriations bills for both military health care and to strengthen and improve veteran's health care under the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

But this is only the beginning of a sustained commitment to repay the sacrifices our veterans have made for all of us, in wars past and present. These are my priorities to continue serving our country's veterans:

  • Improve treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. According to a Veterans' Health Administration report, roughly one-third of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who sought care through the VA have been diagnosed with potential symptoms of post-traumatic stress, drug abuse or other mental disorders. We must provide increased counseling and create greater awareness for the tens of thousands of veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Expand health care for veterans who have suffered multiple severe injuries. Some 35,000 veterans have returned from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts with serious wounds. According to a recent study conducted at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, over 50 percent of soldiers severely injured in Iraq and Afghanistan who have sought hospital treatment have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries. We must increase the number of polytrauma treatment centers created in recognition of the large number of service members who have sustained multiple severe injuries as a result of explosions and blasts. These centers provide an array of inpatient and outpatient services, with specialized programs for traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, vision rehabilitation and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Make veterans' benefits commensurate with the threats and challenges faced by National Guard and Reserve veterans. Increasing numbers of our citizen-soldiers have been serving in front line combat positions side-by-side with active duty soldiers. We must end the segregation of benefits between active duty veterans and National Guard and Reserve veterans and upgrade Guard members from their perceived status as "second-class veterans" - through improvements to health care, pension plans and reintegration programs.

Reports

Senator Klobuchar’s Offices

302 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Main Line: 202-224-3244
Main Fax: 202-228-2186
Toll Free: 1-888-224-9043

1200 Washington Avenue South, Suite 250
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Main Line: 612-727-5220
Main Fax: 612-727-5223
Toll Free: 1-888-224-9043

1134 7th Street NW
Rochester, MN 55901
Main Line: 507-288-5321
Fax: 507-288-2922

121 4th Street South
Moorhead, MN 56560
Main Line: 218-287-2219
Fax: 218-287-2930

Olcott Plaza, Suite 105
820 9th Street North
Virginia, MN 55792
Main Line: 218-741-9690
Fax: 218-741-3692