MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — WCCO is sharing the stories of Minnesota veterans and their families who are benefiting from the generosity of a group called the Minnesotan’s Military Appreciation Fund.

The MMAF gives checks to every recent combat vet from Minnesota, and to families who lost their loved ones in war. Some vets receive anywhere from $500 to $10,000, depending on injuries.

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Two of those recipients are Shon Crowley and Lance Burg. They are coworkers, they are friends, they are Minnesotans and they are airmen.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“I’ve been to Qatar, to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Pakistan,” Burg said.

They oversee medics and have spent more than a few months in combat.

“All the service counts, all of it,” Crowley said. “All of it means something to the total effort. The people who cook, the people who maintain vehicles, the people who pack parachutes — it all matters.”

Crowley’s time on meant time off from his wife and daughter. Burg left his family too, but he says it was actually tough to come home.

“You just get into your own world, and you have to remember when you come back that now you’re a family man,” Burg said.

He heard about the MMAF upon return to his family, and MMAF heard about him, cutting him a check for $500.

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“I can’t say how much I appreciate it, it’s a little thing to some people … but to me it was just somebody really appreciates, somebody appreciated the service that I gave,” Burg said.

So he told his buddy Crowley to also apply. Burg used the money for a getaway.

“That allowed me to take my wife up to the north shore and basically just reconnect,” Burg said.

Crowley’s $500 went to buy his little girl a new guitar.

“She started taking and doing guitar lessons,” Crowley said.

The friends say their deployments were mild; no major injury, no major loss. But this money was a major gain.

“Makes you feel, you know, appreciated. Not in a thumping-your-chest kind of way, but just in a … that same appreciation as when you’re walking down the street in uniform and people shake your hand and just say, ‘Thank you for your service,’ So it makes you feel good,” Crowley said.

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Click here for more information on how to donate.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield