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Veteran Appreciation Day to be held in Wadena

Minnesota has more than 400,000 veterans, yet only about half use their VA health care benefits. Are you a veteran or spouse of a veteran still wondering what benefits you or your loved one may be eligible to receive?

To assist veterans, their spouses and families in learning about and accessing health care and other VA benefits, a team of representatives from the St. Cloud VA Health Care System and the Wadena County Veteran Service Office are conducting a Veteran Appreciation Day in Wadena.

The Veteran Appreciation Day is scheduled to take place at VFW Post 3922, at 213 1st St. SE., on Aug. 23, from 4-8 p.m.

Veterans from all eras are invited to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the VA and the benefits provided to eligible veterans. Veterans do not need to be a member of the VFW to attend.

Veteran Appreciation Days are primarily walk-in events, but veterans needing an appointment with a benefits counselor at a specific time may call Jackie Stevenson at (320) 255-6353 prior to the event. An informal presentation on VA benefits is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., and benefits counselors are available for one-on one discussion throughout the evening.

"These events are designed to provide direct assistance to veterans in applying for VA benefits by bringing expert counselors directly to the communities they live in," said Barb Oemcke, business manager for the St. Cloud VA Health Care System. "In many cases, veterans who applied for benefits earlier in life and were deemed not eligible may now be eligible due to changes in benefits programs or changing personal situations."

"If a veteran or spouse ever had a question this is the time to ask it," she added.

While eligibility rules vary based on individual circumstances, Oemcke said that for health care benefits the basic requirement is that a person must have served in the active military. Reservists and National Guard members may also qualify for health care benefits if they were ordered to active duty, she added.

For most Veterans applying for health benefits, entry into the VA health care system begins with a simple written application and a copy of the veteran's DD 214. Applications for health care benefits and additional information will be available at the event, or you may call the St. Cloud VA Health Care System eligibility office at (320) 255-6340 or visit

Applications and information on all VA benefits are available locally from the Wadena County Veteran Service Officer, David Anderson, at (218) 631-7617.

The St. Cloud VA Health Care System delivers health care to more than 38,000 veterans per year at the medical center in St. Cloud and community based outpatient clinics in Alexandria, Brainerd, and Montevideo.

Please see your local county veterans service officer if you have any questions. You can contact your local VSO at (218) 631-7617 or by e-mail at As always, have a great week.