MINNETONKA, MN – Last Thursday, Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03) convened more than 50 veterans, service members, military families and advocates for a community conversation on veterans issues. Phillips and four members of his Veterans Advisory Council led a lively and informational discussion about the challenges Minnesota’s military and veteran communities face and the services that are available to support them. The group also fielded open testimony from attendees.
“This is the first of many conversations to come,” said Phillips. “As a Gold Star Son, veteran and military issues are personally important to me. America seems to always find the means to send young men and women overseas to fight, and it is imperative that we also find the means to support them when they come home. I look forward to carrying these stories to Washington and continuing to work hard for our veterans and service members.”
A dozen community members testified, each sharing their personal stories, recommending legislation or thanking the Congressman for hosting the conversation. Many expressed opposition to the privatization of the VA and agreed that more should be done to educate veterans on the services that are available to them.
Lindsey Erdmann, a Marine Corps veteran from Minnetonka, shared her concerns about the ways women can be mistreated during integrated basic training.
Todd Kemery of Lakeville educated Phillips on legislation that is a priority to paralyzed veterans.
Helen McEvoy-Fresse of Minnetonka worries about the state of U.S. relations with Iran and reminded Phillips that Congress holds her son’s life in their hands – he is a Marine who will deploy in September.
Phillips listened intently and promised to be an advocate in Washington. To date, he has co-sponsored eight bills aimed at supporting veterans, military members and their families.
Members of Phillips’s Veteran Advisory Council who served on the panel Thursday include: Hennepin County Veterans Service Officer Neil Doyle, Carver County Veterans Service Officer Dan Tengwall, Project Got Your Back Manager Allison Alstrin, and Brooklyn Park Vet Center Director Craig Towle. The group meets regularly to advise Phillips on military and veterans’ issues.