News Release

 

Veterans Outdoors helps veterans

9-20-2019

Larry Herke, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, visited Middle River last weekend to volunteer at the Riley Kuznia Memorial Goose Hunt for Disabled Veterans. Herke (back row, far left) is pictured with the Middle River Veterans Outdoors Board, which organized the hunt. Board members include (front row) Wayne Kilen, Jason Cervantes, Mike Brazier; (back row) Elroy Aune, Josh Veselka and Mike Hugg.

by April Scheinoha
Reporter

Larry Herke was participating in his first goose hunt, and Middle River Veterans Outdoors would make sure it was memorable for him and the disabled veterans he was there to assist.

Herke serves as the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. He attended the Riley Kuznia Memorial Goose Hunt for Disabled Veterans in Middle River as a volunteer and to see how the MRVO was using two grants it recently received.

MRVO provides hunting and fishing trips to veterans. It recently received a grant from Minnesota veteran license plate proceeds and a grant from the Veterans for Veterans organization, Herke said. The former grant supplied funding for a track wheelchair to be used by the veterans. The other grant provided funding for such things as ammunition and blinds.

Herke was in Middle River to see how the MRVO was using the grants and to get some one-on-one feedback from veterans on how they were being served by his department. Nineteen disabled veterans participated in the Riley Kuznia Memorial Goose Hunt in the Middle River area. Sixteen volunteers, including MRVO Board members, assisted.

Herke already knows one improvement he would like to make. He seeks to increase the stipend for Honor Guards at veterans’ funerals. Herke noted that the stipend hasn’t changed since 2007 and it is a little low. Currently, the stipend is $50 per time an Honor Guard serves as a veteran’s funeral. Herke would like to raise it to $75 and then eventually $100. The stipend is used for the Honor Guard’s ammunition, transportation and uniforms.

The Riley Kuznia Memorial Goose Hunt for Disabled Veterans was held Saturday, Sept. 14 in the Middle River area. Here, some members of the group are pictured with their haul. (Submitted)

 

Middle River Veterans Outdoors {MRVO) has been able to expand their equipment inventory thanks to the MN Department of Veteran Affairs Support Our Troops (SOT) grant. The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs SOT competitive grant program was launched in February 2016. These grants are financed from sales of the Minnesota “Support Our Troops” License Plates. Minnesota organizations with programs designed to “support and improve the lives of Veterans and their families” now may apply for grants ranging from $1,000 to $100,000. For more information about the state of Minnesota being the sponsoring agency for these SOT grants please go to their website: minnesotaveteran.org/sot

After almost a year of the MRVO Board of Directors commitment to the grant process, MRVO received $20,000 from the SOT grant fund. MRVO was able to purchase a tracked wheelchair, generator and three hunting blinds with the funds received. With the equipment expansion MRVO will be able to better fulfill their commitment to serving veterans by providing cost free outdoor activities.

MRVO will use the generator as a power source for many of the events and activities provided.

The hunting blinds will be used during MRVO’s annual Deer Hunt (Oct 17th
-20th for 2019) that will be awarded to 10 veterans. The deer hunt was added to the 2018 MRVO events with the cooperation of the MN DNR by allowing for a special deer hunting season to be organized and offered specifically by MRVO.

With the purchase of the tracked wheelchair MRVO has been able to fulfill a longtime goal of owning a tracked wheelchair . The tracked wheelchair will be instrumental in increasing mobility and providing disabled veterans quality outdoor activities that are not normally achievable due to rough terrain as well as providing the stability needed during hunting or fishing events. The tracked wheelchair will also be used to enhance a veteran’s daily quality of life by allowing them to have more mobility during outdoor
events such as county fairs, parades, flea markets, threshing bee’s etc. If you are a veteran or know a veteran that could benefit from the use of the tracked wheel chair contact the MRVO board of directors to the make appropriate arrangements.

If you would like to attend one of MRVO events visit our website at mrveteransoutdoors.com.

Jason Cervantes

MRVO BOD Chairman