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Continued: Veterans forgoing use of county services centers across Minnesota

  • Article by: PAUL LEVY , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 17, 2014 - 11:38 PM

“At first, I wasn’t interested,” he said. “And now, I feel as if I’ve been compensated enough. There’s really no need.”

Kriesel tries to remind veterans he’s seen that “the services are paid for by the government and that they’ve earned them. They’ve put their lives on the line.”

Kriesel himself lost his legs and suffered other injuries from a roadside bomb in Iraq.

While Minnesota does not keep statewide statistics on visits to county veterans services centers, some are apparently busier than others. The Morrison County office, which is 7 miles from Camp Ripley, is extremely busy, with 11 percent of its clientele coming from other counties.

Still, Paul Froncak, the center’s director, says: “I’ve been doing this for 28 years and the problem doesn’t change. How do you get a four-year Marine veteran into this office? How do you let him know the office exists?

“I call these veterans young immortals. You have to get them and maybe talk about a knee, but you have to gain their trust to talk about PTSD issues. And getting them into these offices hasn’t been easy.”

 

Paul Levy • 612-673-4419



 

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  • John Kriesel, director of veterans services in Anoka County and an Iraq war veteran, is among those trying to get younger vets to use service offices in counties across Minnesota. Many county veterans services offices include vets who have had experiences like those of military members arriving back home.

  • Ron Williams, 55, of Farmington (outside a VA Clinic in the city of Ramsey) served in the Navy from 1977 to 1999. He said the Dakota County Veterans Services Office was a big help when he had an issue with a disability award, with an officer “answering questions I might not have thought to ask.”

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