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New Assistant Veterans Service Officer in Lake County

Lake County Veterans Services has a new Assistant County Veterans Service Officer. Melissa Crandall will be working with County Veterans Service Officer Brad Anderson, to help connect veterans and their families with needed support.

Crandall hails from Northern Wisconsin. She joined the Marine Corps when she was 18 and, after Boot Camp, became a Field Radio Operator. She completed two deployments during her first 4 years of service, including 8 months of service in Iraq in 2008. Returning stateside, Crandall joined a Fixed Wing Support Squadron out of North Carolina and in 2010 was deployed to the USS Nassau which was stationed off of Jordan and Africa in support of military operations in Afghanistan.

When Crandall returned from that deployment, she re-enlisted and went to school to become a Marine Security Guard. After training, she worked for 3 years guarding the U.S. Consulates in Brussels Belgium, Chengdu China and was the first woman to be assigned to guard the Consulate in Tallinn Estonia.

Crandall said that one thing that veteran’s often struggle with is finding purpose after service. She struggled with this herself after so many years overseas. She left the Marine Corps and enrolled in both UMD and Saint Scholastica, eventually earning a degree in Organizational Leadership. Previous to taking the position in Lake County, Crandall worked for 4 years at the Veterans Health Care Administration in Duluth.

Crandall is the first woman to serve as a Veterans Service Officer in Lake County. She said that she is enthusiastic about that fact and noted that the place that women hold in the military is still an issue in terms of what positions they should hold and what areas of the world they should be deployed to. Crandall stated that she feels really good about the service that she and the women who served beside her have provided for this country.

“It was my mission, once getting out of service, to keep working with and for veterans”, Crandall stated. The VSO offices in Two Harbors and Silver Bay are places where veterans can apply for VA healthcare and benefit compensation if they were injured in service. Additionally, family members can receive support with survivor’s benefits.

About one in nine people in Lake County are veterans. Crandall stated that having the resources to keep up with the population of veterans in a given region is important. She stated that Minnesota has good access to resources to help serve veteran’s needs. That being said, veterans having knowledge of what is available to them and knowing where to go to access those supports can be an issue. Both CVSOs Anderson and Crandall are focused on making sure that area veterans have access to the services and support that they and their families need. The Lake County Veterans Service Office is located at 601 3rd Avenue in Two Harbors. Veterans are encouraged to call the office (218-834-8326) or stop in for a visit. Once a week, a representative from the Two Harbors office is available in Silver Bay to offer support. Also, residents are encouraged to keep an eye on both of Lake County’s area newspapers for weekly information updates about services and benefits. Information is also available online by Googling, Lake County Veterans Services.

Brad Anderson is the Lake County Veterans Service Officer 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

Rick Evans
Rick Evans
My wife, Marsha Kinzer (a proud DEHS Greyhound, class of ‘77) introduced me to the North Shore on vacation in 2012. It became our regular escape when the stress of our careers in education became overwhelming, and it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the breathtaking scenery, the nice people, and “salad” containing Jell-o and marshmallows. So you can either blame or thank my loving wife for my being here, because when we needed to choose a retirement hometown, Marsha advocated hard for her beloved Duluth, and here we are, six months later. Yes, this will be my first northern Minnesota winter. Yes, I welcome thoughts and prayers. Government, public policy, and social justice weighed heavily in the curriculums I taught at the high school level over a thirty-eight year career. In addition, we were a laboratory school focused on critical thinking in conjunction with technical and scientific writing. So when I found myself adrift on the great ocean of retirement and spied a raft, I jumped at the chance to take up what I’d left behind…minus the bad teachers’ lounge coffee. My position at the NSJ allows me to combine my passions for government and writing, and it’s helping me to feel less out of touch in new surroundings. When I’m not being “Cubby” (Marsha’s favorite new nickname for this green reporter) I enjoy pointing at eagles and saying, “Look, honey. There’s an eagle.” I’ve had an active side hustle as a professional musician for almost as many years as Charlie Parr. As a guitarist/singer/songwriter, I graced the stages of clubs and festivals around southern Wisconsin, including an appearance on A Prairie Home Companion. Should I even mention A Prairie Home Companion, or am I the only one here old enough to remember what that is? Look! An eagle!
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