President's Corner: Uniting for our vets

by UWNEMN Board President Paul Janssen


This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first Veterans Day, originally known as Armistice Day, established by President Woodrow Wilson on November 11, 1919. I’ve been reflecting on vets this month and have to think we all feel the same way about them.  Without vets, we aren’t free to have our own opinions - whether they are smart or stupid.  Vets allow us to have our freedom - which for us Americans is everything that makes the U.S. the greatest country, period. To help those who have fought for us, United Way of Northeastern Minnesota (UWNEMN) established the United for Veterans program in 2013. 


I read recently that 10-20% of vets are suffering from PTSD and that on average 22 vets die from suicide every day in our country. Through United for Veterans, UWNEMN provides free, confidential therapy sessions to local vets suffering from PTSD. It is really helping.


With the holidays around the corner, food is on the brain. For many local vets, however, food can be hard to come by, especially for those who are homebound in remote, rural areas. To help, United for Veterans purchases food and assembles holiday meal baskets, delivering them to 40 local vets during the week of Christmas.  I believe strongly in helping people who are hungry, so my company and I sponsored all of the hams that were included in the meal baskets last year. 


UWNEMN’s United for Veterans also created a Military Connections Guide filled with local resources and established a Veterans Crisis Fund to support those in financial need. United for Veterans also provides an annual female vets retreat focused on healing and overall wellbeing.  In addition, a transitional home for homeless vets was established through a partnership with MACV. One local vet has successfully transitioned out of the home, gaining full-time employment and permanent housing and another will also soon transition out. The home is a first-of-its-kind on the Iron Range. 


To promote healing and education, United for Veterans is bringing The Wall That Heals: Touring Vietnam Veterans Wall Replica and Mobile Education Center to the Iron Range this summer.  The traveling exhibit will be displayed for viewing on the Chisholm High School football field from June 23-28, 2020.  This is not to be missed!


To benefit all of these programs serving local vets, funding is needed.  UWNEMN, along with presenting sponsor American Bank, is proud and excited to announce their biggest fundraiser yet – Bull Ride for the Brave.  This family-friendly, excitement-filled evening of professional bull riding will be held on Friday, May 15, 2020 at the Hibbing Memorial Arena.  Mark your calendars now – you will not want to miss this show!  All proceeds will benefit United for Veterans. The whole week leading up to Bull Ride for the Brave will be filled with events, specials and fun!


I’m lucky enough to currently be Board President of an organization that is doing their share to try and say thanks to our vets.  This year, I hope you honor those who have served and continue to serve by supporting local vets’ programming like UWNEMN’s United for Veterans, as well as making plans to attend upcoming events to honor and support our local vets.