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Pelosi meets with Minnesota vets

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Greeting veterans
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi greets Minnesota veterans during a visit to the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis Monday.
MPR Photo/Curtis Gilbert

Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in Minneapolis this morning to talk to Minnesota veterans.

Some veterans raised concerns about the long distances they have to travel to get to the VA hospital where the event took place. Others said when they left the service, no one even told them they were eligible for VA benefits. 

Tom McLaughlin, who lost his leg in Vietnam, said in 1984 he got a VA grant to add handrails to his bath tub in 1984. McLaughlin told Pelosi that when he moved to a new house a few years ago, he tried to use the program again.

Pelosi visits Minnesota VA
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Minnesota veterans today at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis. To the right are Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, all Democrats.
MPR Photo/Curtis Gilbert

"And I was told that I could only use it one time. So I ended up spending almost $4,000 to modify my bath tub so I could safely get in and out of the tub," McLaughlin said.

Pelosi said Congress is already working to increase the mileage reimbursement rates for vets who live far from hospitals, and she said she will look into their other concerns as well.

"It's our mantra on Capitol Hill that in the military we will never leave a soldier behind on the battlefield. We say in Congress, 'And when they come home, we will not leave them behind as well,'" said Pelosi.

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, a DFLer who represents Minnesota's 1st Congressional District, organized and moderated the discussion. Walz is up for re-election this year, and Pelosi is also hosting a fundraiser for him while she's in the Twin Cities.