The County Veterans Service Office (CVSO) is a department head position appointed by the County Board. The State of Minnesota is one of the few responsible states that has mandated a network of Veterans Service Officers in each County. In accordance with state statute, each County shall provide an office, clerical staff and the budgetary support necessary to perform the duties of the office. In 1986, Minnesota went a step further than any other state by providing annual certification of the CVSO's, which consists of mandatory continuing education and annual testing.
The CVSO is held responsible for attaining knowledge on the continually changing array of benefits that are available to the Veteran, his or her family, the widow, and orphans of a Veteran. This includes, but is not limited to, Federal USDVA benefits, State of Minnesota DVA benefits, and the referral of persons to agencies and organizations that could provide for their immediate and long range needs. The CVSO works very closely with community health agencies, Public Health Service, the court system, the welfare system, financial institutions, and Veterans' organizations for the benefit of the client. In addition, the County Veterans Service Officer meets in various outlying communities monthly to provide service to those who are unable to come to the County Courthouse. Community centers and Veterans organizations provide no-cost meeting places throughout the county for this purpose. Home visits by the CVSO are made to those unable to leave their residences.
The CVSO processes claims primarily with the USDVA Regional Office and Insurance Center at Fort Snelling, St. Paul, through accredited representatives, such as the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., AMVETS, Military Order of the Purple Heart, and the State of Minnesota DVA. While the Faribault County VSO is also accredited by the USDVA to process claims, it is beneficial to use these organizations as all of these people have offices at the USDVARO & IC, Fort Snelling. By federal and state law, there is no "fee" charged for any services provided by the USDVA, accredited representatives, or the CVSO.
The State of Minnesota has a limited Veterans benefit section which is administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). These benefits include a financial subsistence plan that parallels welfare programs and is called Veterans Financial and Emergency Medical, Dental, and Optical Assistance. Also, it has a limited education assistance program. The education assistance program is for war orphans and dependents of those veterans who are 100% service connected due to injury or illness caused by their military service. There is also education assistance for veterans who have exhausted their USDVA education benefits (36 or 48 months). Minnesota maintains a 200-bed Veterans' nursing home in Minneapolis, a 90-bed Veterans' nursing home in Silver Bay, a 90-bed Veterans' nursing home in Luverne, and a 190-bed Veterans' domiciliary in Hastings. An additional 90-bed Veterans' nursing home is currently planned for Fergus Falls. Veterans and spouses with disabilities are eligible for placement in the Minnesota Veterans Homes. To learn more about our State Veteran Homes here in Minnesota please watch "Home for Heroes".
The CVSO must remain cognizant of changes in both federal and state benefits by attending seminars, conferences, and schools provided by the MNDVA and USDVA. By doing so, we can best advise and assist the veteran or veteran-related client. There are approximately 4,200 veterans residing in our county. Counting widows, orphans, and children, there are approximately 6,000 persons in and around Faribault County who are potentially eligible for our services.