By Reg Chapman

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — More than 500 Veterans from Albert Lea to Duluth packed the St. Paul Armory for a pre-rally lunch.

It’s here they get excited and energized in preparation to knock on the doors of their legislators.

“We don’t have any lobbyist out there for us. It’s we veterans that’s got to do the work for us,” Stephen Whitehead, national senior vice commander for disabled veterans said.

Although they come from all different branches of the military, they plan to speak in one voice.

They will use that voice to set the veterans’ agenda — issues they hope lawmakers will get behind.

They walked in solidarity through the Capitol complex, passing by the military family tribute to the base of the Minnesota World War II Veteran Memorial.

Once inside, it was time to talk about veteran issues.

“Veterans are concerned about our spouses, our widows,” Whitehead said.

Most are concerned about a property tax exclusion.

“If a veteran gets a property tax exclusion, that means they are severely disabled. And if that veteran dies, the widow can stay in the home for eight years. And after eight years, that widow loses that property tax exemption,” veteran Greg Remus said.

“I’m getting old, and I know a lot of them that are out there that are in deep trouble,” veteran John Prouty said.

Seventy-eight-year-old Prouty came from Cloquet to fight to keep widows in their homes.

“There is a lot of my friends that are out there that are in that predicament,” Prouty said. “After eight years, they will lose their tax exemption. The spouses will not have the income and their taxes will go up and they will be forced to sell their property in order to survive.”

John and others believe lawmakers will hear their concerns, they just hope listening turns to action to help veterans and their families.

Reg Chapman

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