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Vets have 'seen enough' of Sen. Norm Coleman

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opinion Detroit Lakes, 56501

Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

In 2002, when Norm Coleman first ran for the U.S. Senate, he traveled around the state trashing Sen. Wellstone's record on support for the military. Coleman said that he'd be a stronger advocate for American soldiers than Wellstone.

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"They do need to be second to none in terms of training, in terms of equipment and in terms of pay," he said. "They do need folks at home who will stand with them unquestionably."

Not only that, but Norm Coleman also criticized Paul Wellstone on support for veterans' benefits. After the campaign was over, and Sen. Wellstone was no longer with us, Coleman felt it was safe to dial back his rhetoric a bit and allowed, "I know that Senator Wellstone was a powerful champion for Minnesota veterans. I shall do my very, very best to carry out that part of his legacy."

Questions of Coleman's election-year sincerity aside, whatever happened to his supposed zeal for giving the troops all that they needed in training, equipment, and pay? And, have we been witnessing the senator's "very, very best" attempts to emulate Paul Wellstone's renowned advocacy for Minnesota's veterans?

Not likely. In his one term as a U.S. senator, Norm Coleman has voted against funding for veterans' health care at least 18 times. He's even voted for Republican budgets that actually cut funding for veterans. That probably explains why he's received a 40 percent rating from the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and a 'D' grade from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).

It's been five years since the invasion of Iraq, which Sen. Coleman had so vigorously promoted and defended. He's consistently chosen to side with his party and his president instead of supporting veterans and active military. From a veteran's perspective, I think we've seen enough.

-- Jim Bootz, Chair, DFL Veterans Caucus

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