The Minnesota State and Local Government and Veterans Committee convened the field hearing at the Minneapolis Veterans Home, 5101 Minnehaha Avenue South Minneapolis, Minnesota,55417. Chair Sen. Erin Murphy (DFL) invited veterans and veterans organizations to provide testimony on the status of veterans issues in Minnesota. Janigo explained the demographic makeup of Minnesota veterans and current needs in the military and veteran community.
“I ask you today to look at veterans differently,” said Janigo. “As you consider bills this session, to look at funding veterans issues an investment in disparity reduction. Nationally, the U.S. military is 45 percent people of color, making it one of the most diverse organizations in existence.”
Janigo highlighted challenges veterans face, including a disproportionate rate of suicide as compared to the general population and the persistent problem of veteran homelessness in Hennepin and Ramsey County. She outlined funding and policy requests the organization has of lawmakers this legislative session, including:
· Funding to the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) for veteran suicide prevention programs
· Bonding to replace of six of the nine buildings at the Hastings Veterans Home
· Funding for nonprofits creating housing opportunities for homeless veterans
· Increasing the monthly allowance for veterans residing in shelter, a human services bill introduced last year with bipartisansupport by Catholic Charities
· Amending the Post-9/11 service bonus to ensure all veterans who served are properly recognized
· Eliminating vehicle registration fees for GoldStar spouses and children, as well as for 100 percent disabled veterans. (AGold Star family member is a spouse or child whose spouse or parent died while serving in the U.S. military).
· Increasing the property tax exclusion cap for disabled veterans
· Changing the language so surviving spouses can apply for property tax exclusion within two years of the award of benefits
· Reducing charitable gambling tax rates so veterans service organizations can distribute proceeds to support youth programs, local communities, and veterans in need who walk into post buildings to ask for help
“Please deliver for us this year. We’re asking for a clean, separate Veterans Omnibus Bill this session, demanding it, because our issues should not be subject to partisan trading or fights,” said Janigo.
Other testifiers included individual veterans, a representative from the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MAC-V) which is working to end veteran homelessness, Mick Aguirre DAV Department of Minnesota Commander, Jonna Phillips Therapy Director of the Veterans Resilience Project which delivers mental health services, staff from the Minneapolis Veterans Home, and Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Larry Herke.
Janigo is a third-generation Army veteran who served post-9/11 in the ND National Guard. Her uncle was a SD Army National Guardsman, and her grandfather served in the Army in Okinawa in WWII. She is an active member of the Osseo Legion and was elected the 10th District American Legion Vice Commander for North Hennepin posts in 2022. She has served on The American Legion Department of Minnesota Legislative Committee under the administration of Department Commander Jennifer Havlick of Two Harbors, MN, since July 2022, with a promotion to chair last week. Duties for the volunteer legislative chair position may involve travel across the state, to the national American Legion headquarters in Indianapolis, to Washington, D.C., or other states for conferences.
For more information:
State and Local Government and Veterans Committee Schedule https://www.senate.mn/schedule/committee/3131/biennium
Kristy Janigo’s full written testimony: https://www.senate.mn/committees/2023-2024/3131_Committee_on_State_and_Local_Government_and_Veterans/Written%20testimony%20-%20Kristy%20Janigo.pdf
The American Legion Department of Minnesota’s legislative platform: https://mnlegion.org/legislation/