Rep. Collin Peterson Hosts Town Hall on Veterans’ Issues

Veterans discussed issues ranging from healthcare to rural access

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — Rep. Collin Peterson hosted a town hall to hear from veterans.

“I thought we’d made more progress in some of these areas, I’m leaving here with a long list of things that need to be worked on,” he said.

That long list includes getting money for military funerals, healthcare and veterans’ homes.

One idea proposed by State Sen. Kent Eken is to dedicate one wing of nursing homes to veterans to make it easier for families to visit.

“We need more veterans’ homes, they’re full, there’s waiting lists miles long, some of the specialty care like dementia they aren’t really building the facilities to handle that,” Dave Coalwell, a retired Colonel, said.

Veterans say another issue with getting healthcare is the paperwork. They say the process of getting coverage is often incoherent, and forms are getting longer and harder to understand.

Rural access is also adding to their stress. Some say they know veterans who have to drive hours just to see a doctor.

“It’s a big challenge to get people to understand an area like this, the vast distances that we have, how rural the area is, how many small towns we have, it’s a constant thing trying to get people to understand,” Peterson said.

Some veterans say they want those in office to pay more attention to who they’re representing.

“I wish they’d wake up and realize they represent what, 300 million Americans, they need to worry about that instead of who’s in the White House and who’s doing what committee and that kind of thing,” Coalwell said.

Peterson took time at the end of the town hall to honor Vietnam veterans who may not have been recognized decades ago.

“We made a commitment to our veterans, they served the country, and we were going to be there for them when they came back,” he said.

“I appreciate the fact that I know he’s a busy man, but he take the time to come and see us, which is great,” Coalwell said.

Peterson is a veteran himself and served in the Minnesota National Guard from 1963 to 1969.

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