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VETS VIEWS: Hubbard County has higher percentage of veterans

Greg Remus

If you haven't figured it out yet, I am fascinated by numbers and statistics, especially when you talk about our veterans in Hubbard County. Did you know there are 2,311 veterans in Hubbard County? Hubbard County population according to the Census Bureau is 18,644 as of 2009. That means that 12 percent of residents served in the military.

Stated another way, Hubbard County has more than 1 in every 10 residents that served in the military.

The United States had 22,972,246 veterans out a population of 307,006,550 (7.5 percent veterans). Minnesota had 390,576 veterans with a total population of 5,266,214 (7.4 percent veterans). It becomes very apparent that Hubbard County is a patriotic county and we should be proud of this fact.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) has the ability to break these numbers down by era served. DVA projected Minnesota to have 381,300 veterans at the end of 2010 (the official number has yet to be released).

DVA projects Minnesota to lose over 95,000 veterans between 2009 through 2020. DVA is projecting a population of 294,500 in 2020, yet the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, just announced that the number of veterans receiving VA health care and benefits has grown by nearly 800,000 since he took office in 2009. The number now stands at a record 8.4 million and is projected to hit 8.6 million by 2012.  

There are now more veterans using VA facilities even though there are fewer veterans.

On a more solemn note, the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs has announced they will no longer provide a bronze star marker for each recently deceased veteran.

In past years, this office has received the markers from Minnesota DVA and the bronze star markers were placed at the graveside of every recently deceased veteran whether they had a standard government headstone or a privately purchased headstone.

It has been volunteers and veterans service organizations who placed the bronze star markers just prior to Memorial Day. They would also affix a flag to the newly placed and the previously placed bronze star markers honoring the men and women who gave so much for their country for the Memorial Day events.

The Minnesota DVA said it saw the bronze star marker as a duplication of services, since the US Department of veterans Affairs will begin providing a new bronze medallion (a medallion to be affixed to privately purchased head-

stones indicating it is a veterans' grave).

In my opinion this is not duplication since the medallion is only issued for graves marked by privately purchased headstones.

Regardless of the logic, the impact is clear. Veterans' graves will be less visible and there will be no place to affix the flags. Our local veterans' organizations want to continue to place the markers along side the graves. The cost to fund this locally is approximately $1500 annually.

Our local veteran organizations are intending to fundraise for this program. I encourage you to contact and support our local veterans' service organizations to ensure the continuation of the bronze star marker program.