Tuesday, July 16, 2024


Perhaps I should have named the column “random thoughts”. The information I share may not always flow from one week to the next. Benefits and services are often confusing and disjointed, but as with just about everything I do and say there is one common theme, Veterans. This week I will share an available service and a few announcements.

Veterans Canteen Service (VCS), established in 1946, was created to provide articles of merchandise and services at reasonable prices to Veterans enrolled in the VA healthcare system, caregivers, and visitors. VCS is part of the Department of Veterans Affairs and is a self-sustaining entity. Revenues generated are used to support a variety of Veteran programs. Visit www.shopvcs.va.gov

I recently saw an article highlighting discounted sporting event tickets through VCS. While researching VCS, I discovered there are discounts on travel, hotels, rental cars, theme parks, movies, Broadway shows, sporting events (college and professional), and even concert tickets. Not interested in seeing the Blue Man Group, then shop name brand apparel, home improvement (tools), automotive, jewelry, outdoors, pets, technology, and more. I am not promoting the site nor am I guaranteeing the best prices. I am just shed-ding light on another Veteran benefit or service available.

For those not aware, there is a new Assistant County Veterans Service Officer (ACVSO) in Lake County, Melissa Crandall. Melissa is a Marine Corps Veteran with experience working with Veterans. She started on August 14 and has been busy learning the ropes. Do not let the assistant title fool you, as she is an accredited Veterans Service Officer and will be assisting, advising, and advocating just like I have been for the past three years. We will be sharing the Veterans Services responsibilities, so do not be afraid to ask her questions if she answers the phone or is in the office if you stop.

The Lake and Cook County Veterans Services offices will be closed Monday, 9/11 thru Wednesday, 9/13. We will be unavailable during this time, as we partake in mandatory training necessary to maintain our certifications and accreditations. Should you have time-sensitive questions during this time regarding VA benefits, then you may always contact VA at 1-800-MyVA411 or 1-800-698-2411 (press zero to speak with an agent). Feel free to call the office and leave a voice message or send us an email.

Brad Anderson and Melissa Crandall are the Lake County Veterans Service Officers and can be reached at 218.834.8326 or cvso@co.lake.mn.us Karen Christianson is the Cook County Veterans Service Officer and can be reached at 218.387.3639, or karen.christianson@co.cook.mn.us

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