Bill would give veterans option of asking for Veterans' Day off
ST. PAUL — Minnesota veterans could request to take off Veterans Day under a bill that a House committee passed Wednesday.
"This is a holiday meant to honor these selfless men and women," said Stephanie Vorvick of the Chippewa County Veterans Service Office.
Goodhue County Commissioner Ron Allen, who serves as commander of Red Wing’s Leo C. Peterson American Legion Post 54, said Thursday the bill could be useful if it allowed younger veterans the opportunity to meet face to face.
“It may be a good idea for their mental health,” said Allen, adding that, in his experience, it was helpful being able to talk with other veterans at ceremonies. “It was almost like therapy.”
Allen said the local American Legion post — as well as veterans’ organizations across the state and country — is struggling to get veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan to join up.
While members of the House State Government Finance and Veterans' Affairs Committee said they support veterans, many said they have problems with the bill, which passed on to other committees on a split voice vote.
"It happens every single year," Rep. Ernie Leidiger, R-Mayer, said about Veterans Day. "If they want to really be there, they can make arrangements to be there."
Falk's bill would not require an employer to give a worker the day off. A worker who is a veteran would need to tell his employer 30 days in advance if he wants to take off Veterans Day, and the employer would have to let him know if the request was granted.
Vorvick said the legislation is needed because now only 80-year-old veterans can attend the Nov. 11 ceremonies. "The ones who want to go to these programs, they don't go to them because they are already working."
The bill concerned Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, because it would interfere with the employer-employee relationship.
Committee Chairwoman Mary Murphy, D-Hermantown, said that family members also sacrificed.
"What about the mother of the veteran who waited at home?" she asked. "Are we going to include others, or are we going to say, 'No?'"
Vorvick told Murphy that other family members would understand that Veterans Day should be just for veterans.
Republican Eagle reporter Michael Brun contributed to this story.