A mission to inform veterans

The Veterans Appreciation Program opened with a flag raising ceremony held at City Square Park. Patriot photo by Todd Moen
The Veterans Appreciation Program opened with a flag raising ceremony held at City Square Park. Patriot photo by Todd Moen

Approximately 60 people attended the inaugural Veterans Appreciation Program hosted by Johnson Funeral Home in Waconia on Wednesday, Sept. 26.
The program opened with a special flag raising ceremony held at City Square Park. Speakers included Andy Pawlitschek, who focused on medical assistance and Veterans Homes, Carver County Veterans Service Officer David Priem, who touched on veterans benefits, and Brad Butler, who talked about Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
The event also included information on funeral planning and concluded with a picnic lunch.
Veterans from across the county were invited to the event. Todd Johnson of Johnson Funeral Home said they held the program as a service to the community’s veterans.
“We’re going to do this on a yearly basis and make it bigger and better,” he said, noting the importance of getting this type of information out to the public. “We want to give back to the veterans who served us. Hopefully, it catches on and gets bigger and bigger.”
Pawlitschek noted that not everything can be covered in one sitting but it’s still important to educate people about all of the different resources that are available to them. “It’s important to know the benefits and options that are available to you,” he said.
Priem, who presents at a couple of these types of events each year, echoed the sentiment.
“To continue to get information out to veterans and their families, that’s the name of the game,” he said, noting that many veterans are unaware that many programs exist that might benefit them. “When they hear VA, most people think federal government but there are state programs, too. There are lots of programs people don’t know about.”
Butler, who is the Supervisor for Cemetery Representatives at Fort Snelling, thought the program was beneficial for those in attendance, folks like Steve and Diane Collins of Watertown. Steve said he felt the program was full of good information.
“I enjoyed the presentation,” said Steve, who is a Vietnam veteran. “I appreciated hearing about different veterans benefits and Fort Snelling.”
Richard Ische, a Vietnam veteran from Waconia, also enjoyed the program.
“I found especially interesting the speaker from Fort Snelling,” said Ische, who served in Vietnam. “All the burials they do on a daily basis, it’s like 20 to 22 per day (Monday through Friday) but the max is 32 per day.”
To learn more about the program, contact Johnson Funeral Home at (952) 442-2121 or visit www.johnsonfh.com.