As I was gathering information for the Northern Minnesota Veterans Home Task Force, I discovered some interesting facts about American Indian service members. First, they serve at a higher rate and have a higher concentration of female service members than all other service members.
As a group, they are younger than others who serve, and they serve in the Navy more than any other branch of service.
Up here in northern Minnesota we have four counties that have significant American Indian veteran populations. These counties are Beltrami with 329 American Indian veterans, Cass with 254, Clearwater with 52, and Mahnomen with 107 (this is 24 percent of all county veterans). Overall, 8.7 percent of the veterans in these four counties are American Indian. Compared to the State average (.9 percent) and the national average (.7 percent), these four counties represent a highly concentrated number of American Indian veterans in both Minnesota and the United States.
In Minnesota, there are approximately 3,471 American Indian veterans. In northern Minnesota, there are 1,141 American Indian veterans representing 33 percent of all American Indian veterans in the state.
All of this information comes from the 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year estimates.
This information will prove useful as we endeavor to get a Veterans Home built here in Bemidji. By the way, the next meeting of the Veterans Home Task Force is at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Beltrami County Board Room. All are encouraged to attend.
— The modern era/OIF/OEF support group I mentioned before is now up and running. The next scheduled meeting is at 4:30 p.m. April 18th at the VA clinic in Bemidji. If you are interested in attending please call the clinic at 755-6360.
— If you served at the U.S. Marine Corps Base at Camp Lejeune, N.C., from Jan. 1, 1957, through Dec. 31, 1987, you may have been exposed to drinking water contaminated with industrial solvents, benzene, and other chemicals. If you have one of the following diseases make an appointment to see your local Veterans Service Officer: bladder cancer, breast cancer, multiple myeloma, esophageal cancer, myelodysplastic syndromes, female infertility, neurobehavioral effects, hepatic steatosis, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, kidney cancer, renal toxicity, leukemia, scleroderma, or lung Cancer.
— I hope most of you have heard about eBenefits. This website was created in 2007 to serve Service members and veterans, as well as their families out there. It is one VA program that you should consider using. eBenefits provides a private workspace for updating personal information, monitoring claims, applying for benefits, and managing your health. You can find eBenefits at http://www.ebenefits.va.gov.
— Don’t forget if you have any questions regarding veteran benefits please call the County Veterans Service Office at 333-4177/4178.
Scotty Allison is the Beltrami County Veterans Service Officer.