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SERVING OUR VETERANS: Fargo National Veterans Cemetery
September 27, 2019

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Up until now, North Dakota was one of only ten states to not have a National Veterans Cemetery. It does have the beautiful North Dakota Veterans Cemetery at Mandan, but did not have a National Cemetery. If you have not heard, that has now changed. On September 7, 2019, a formal dedication was held for the opening of the Fargo National Veterans Cemetery. It is located at 8709 40th Avenue N, County Road 20, near Harwood, North Dakota. The Veterans Administration purchased 4.82 acres of land at this location. It will be operated remotely by officials at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis. The Fargo cemetery will serve over 24,000 veterans, their spouses and eligible family members in a 75 mile radius of Fargo. But, any eligible veteran outside this area can apply to be buried here. The cemetery has in-ground burial sites, in-ground cremation burial sites, above-ground columbarium niches, a memorial wall, flagpoles, a memorial walk-way, roads, and other infrastructure.

I have several other informational items for veterans that I would like to share. A North Central Veterans Stand Down will be held on October 24, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Armed Forces Reserve Center, 3420 2nd St NE, in Minot. Personnel will be there to assist veterans with benefits, health care, hygiene items, personal care services, employment assistance, housing assistance, counselling, legal services, and food. Please bring your DD214 or VA card as proof of veteran status, if possible.

The Fargo Veterans Affairs Health Care System will hold several free influenza immunization clinics in October for veterans enrolled in the VA healthcare system across North Dakota. In our immediate area that would include the Devils Lake Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) at 1031 7th St. NE on October 3, 9, 16, 24, and 29, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. At the Minot CBOC (3400 South Broadway), immunizations will be given on October 3 from 9 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and on October 9, 16, and 29 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

As many of you have probably heard, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is preparing to process Agent Orange exposure claims for Blue Water Navy Veterans who served offshore Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975. Although the VA will not start processing claims until January 1, 2020, Blue Water Navy Veterans are encouraged to submit disability compensation claims for conditions presumed to be related to Agent Orange exposure. Veterans over age 85 or with life-threatening illnesses will have priority in claims processing. Being exposed to Agent Orange itself is not a disability. The VA has developed a list of presumptive diseases they have recognized to be associated with exposure to Agent Orange during military service. Veterans, who previously were denied for an Agent Orange related presumptive condition, can file a new claim based on the change in law. Eligible survivors of deceased Blue Water Navy Veterans may also benefit from the new law and may file claims for benefits based on the veteran's service. The new law affects veterans who served on a vessel operating not more than 12 nautical miles seaward from the demarcation line of the waters of Vietnam and Cambodia. An estimated 420,000 to 560,000 Vietnam veterans may be considered Blue Water Navy Veterans.

To apply for Blue Water benefits, or any other veterans benefits, or if you have questions, please contact me and I will do my best to assist you. Again my office hours at the courthouse are on Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. or anytime by appointment.

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