Saturday, May 25, 2024


 “Look back but don’t stare”, a favorite say­ing of mine from the book In the Company of Heroes by Michael Durant (Black Hawk pilot shot down and captured in Somalia). It is a great book, but that is not the point. I am going to recap this past year’s articles in as few words as possible and then continue moving forward. I thought about resolutions as a topic, but I am more of a do what needs to be done sort of person. As a wise childhood friend once said, “Do or do not. There is no try”. Thank you, Yoda.

A CVSO, County Veterans Service Officer, assists, advises, and advocates for Veterans and their families in their respective counties. We do not work for VA, and we do not make decisions regarding benefits. You are ultimately responsible for your benefits. We are here to help.

Service-connected disabled Veterans have submitted a VA claim and received a favorable decision connecting their military service to a current, diagnosed condition (physical or men­tal). Everyone’s circumstance is unique, so we cannot compare (equally) two Veterans with service-connected disabilities. Many of these conditions are not visible, so a word of caution to those judging a book by its cover. If you do not submit a claim, then you will never become service-connected.

VA Health Care is a complicated system that can be simplified by openly and effectively com­municating with your primary care physician. Once enrolled in VA Health, call Minneapolis VA Medical Center at 866-414-5058 and press 0 to speak to a live operator and be directed anywhere within our regional care area. If not enrolled in VA health, then contact your CVSO.

Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Post 9/11 Service Bonus is still available to MN residents that honorably served after 9/11/2001. Visit the website for more details and to ap­ply. www.mn.gov/mdva/resources/familyassis­tance/911-service-bonus.jsp

Mental health… I encourage everyone to start having honest conversations about mental health. I have seen what is shared on social media, so I think we can openly talk about mental health. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, then please call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988 (Veterans press 1). You can also speak to your primary care physi­cian. Resources and help are available, so do not give up and do not take no for an answer.

 I am looking forward to 2024 where we will communicate, collaborate, and conquer our challenges. Happy New Year to everyone!

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


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