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Letter: Bill would assist struggling veterans and their families

To recognize the need to protect those who risked their lives to protect us, I'm sponsoring legislation that would assist Minnesota veterans and their families who are homeless or are in danger of losing their home.

Minnesota has displayed an ongoing commitment to its veterans. Approving this legislation furthers that commitment, and shows veterans that our state will not forget them just because they've fallen on hard times.

My bill would create a permanent source of funding for veterans to provide housing assistance, as well as utility, employment and legal aid.

In order to avoid duplication of services, assurances would be made that this assistance would be coordinated with all other available programs for veterans. If approved, the funding would be made available to needy veterans beginning in Fiscal Year 2011.

Our veterans have given so much, yet they request so little. It's imperative that we continue to take care of those who have served our country.

I had requested $500,000 for the program, but was successful in securing $250,000. My proposal will be included in a revised agriculture/veterans budget plan that reforms spending in this area to help address Minnesota's $994 million budget deficit.

I'm pleased the committee included this important initiative. Even though we were forced to make meaningful reforms to reduce expenses in these tough economic times, we were able to prioritize our veterans through this new program.

Editor's note: Hamilton is Vice Chair of the Minnesota House Agriculture, Rural Economies and Veterans Affairs Finance Division.