Governor Tim Walz signs the Veterans and Military Affairs Bill into law
On Monday, Governor Tim Walz (DFL) signed the comprehensive veterans and military affairs bill that the administration says will move the state closer to becoming the fourth state to end veteran homelessness and expand service bonuses for veterans, fund veterans homes, and invest in the readiness of the Minnesota National Guard.
The bill passed the Minnesota House and Senate with nearly unanimous support.
“For the dedication and sacrifice our military members and veterans give to our state and country, they deserve our highest support,” Governor Walz said in a release. “By expanding service bonuses, investing in veterans homes and the health of our service members, and moving Minnesota closer to ending veterans homelessness, this bill will improve the lives of veterans and service members across the state. With nearly unanimous support from the legislature, this bill shows that Minnesotans deeply care about their veterans, and we will continue to show up for them at the Capitol.”
Highlights of Chapter 38, House File 1937 include:
Service and Retention Bonuses
The bill includes an additional $15 million for service bonuses for post-9/11 era veterans and Gold Star Families and $3 million for reenlistment bonuses for members of the Minnesota National Guard. The bill also expands eligibility for the 9/11 bonuses to include veterans who currently live in Minnesota but were not Minnesota residents when they entered service.
The bill includes millions in new funding to effectively end and prevent veteran homelessness, including funds to construct dozens of permanent supportive housing rental units and facilitate the Homeless Veteran Registry, a tool that identifies veterans experiencing homelessness and connects them to services. This funding will help Minnesota achieve its goal of being the fourth state in the country to declare an end to veteran homelessness statewide.
The bill includes $47 million to start up and operate three new veterans homes to support aging veterans in Bemidji, Montevideo, and Preston, Minnesota. The new veterans homes are scheduled to open later this year.
Minnesota National Guard Readiness
The bill includes $1.5 million to adopt a health and fitness program for the Minnesota National Guard, which has been shown to reduce substance abuse and suicide rates and improve overall health, fitness, and health-promoting behaviors.
According to a release, the bill also includes over $17 million to construct an Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) Field House at the Arden Hills Army Training Site. The facilities will include administrative rooms, weight rooms, cardio space, classrooms, an indoor running track, and the required space to conduct the Army Combat Fitness Test and store necessary equipment. The ACFT Field House will build readiness for the Minnesota National Guard.
The bill was authored by Rep. Jerry Newton (DFL) District 35B, Rep. Samakab Hussein (DFL) District 65A and Senator Nicole Mitchell (DFL) District 47.