Veteran needs assessment survey to determine most critical needs for Northland vets

By KBJR News 1

May 27, 2014 Updated May 27, 2014 at 9:11 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Generations of soldiers have served our country, and for many there are long-lasting negative impacts for them and their families.

In recent years some vets have expressed a significant need to expand veteran services in the Northland.

There are many memories soldiers bring back from war, some which are haunting and in some cases last a life-time.

"We need to make sure that our veterans get what they deserve," said marine veteran John Pegg.

Depression, substance abuse, and physical disabilities are only some of the struggles soldiers frequently bring back from war...

"We do have veterans who are homeless," said Pegg.

To determine the most critical needs of Northland vets, Wilder Research is conducting an area wide needs assessment survey on behalf of the United Way of Northeastern Minnesota.

"Lack of services for the PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Especially some of the more the new technology and services that are coming out for that," said marketing director for United Way, Erin Shay.

Spokespeople of United Way of Northeastern Minnesota say transportation has also become a big issue, especially for older veterans on the range.

"We're rural being up on the Iron Range and so some of them have to travel three and a half to four hours to get down for some of the specialty appointments if they have to go to the VA down in Minneapolis, but when you're 80, 90 years old that can be a haul," said Shay.

But there are some services that seek to make commutes for vets just a bit easier.

"There is a pretty good group of volunteers that drive vets to doctors' appointments," said Katie Kuettel, whose father served in World War II.

However, those with United Way say veteran employment services should be increased, as well as suicide awareness services for those who have served, since each year the number of veterans and traumatized veterans grows.

"We need more services, there's no question about it," said Pegg.

"We believe in the well-being of our veterans and their families and being able to give back to them," said Shay.

When survey results are in the United Way will work with Northland businesses on proposals to best meet these needs.

To contribute to the veterans needs assessment survey head to: