ROCHESTER, Minn. – About 500 veterans are expected to go to the capitol on March 20 for Veterans Day on the Hill 2019.
The group is asking representatives to show their support in certain bills this session.
The retired service members want more access to the outdoors for disabled veterans, full funding to staff three new veteran homes coming to the state, and more opportunity for disabled veterans to get a college education.
But the key focus this year is changing a policy that doesn’t help veterans, but helps their widowed spouses.
According to Stephen Whitehead, the Executive Director of DAV Minnesota, a spouse loses about 60% of income when their service member passes. Under current state law, widows get property tax exclusion for eight years after their veterans die. DAV wants to remove that eight-year cap to help ease the financial burden down the road.
Whitehead also wants to add another piece to the legislation that would keep the property tax exclusion even if a widow moves, which isn't what the policy is now. That way, if a widow needs to downsize or move close to a family member as a caregiver, they won’t have to start paying property taxes.
”The part that people forget is that when that veteran passes, there is somebody that is still left behind. And we can't forget about that. Because, that spouse...he or she has given up a lot in their life as well for that veteran so we got to make sure we take care of them as well,” Whitehead said.
Veterans Day on the Hill starts with a rally at 10:30am, followed lunch and a rally in the rotunda. Everyone is welcome to join in the effort.
Whitehead hopes the momentum created on Wednesday will continue throughout the legislative session to get these policy goals accomplished. He calls on all veterans and supporters to pressure representatives to follow through with what’s discussed on Wednesday.
“We got to make sure that when they say they care about veterans, that they follow through and actually take action on these issues that we bring forward,” Whitedhead said.
About 150 veterans from the Rochester area are expected to go to the capitol on Wednesday.