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U.S. Rep. Peterson speaks at vets home in Fergus Falls

Visiting, honoring veterans: U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson visited with veterans at the Fergus Falls Veterans Home Wednesday afternoon. Peterson began working for veterans after being elected to the Minnesota Senate in 1977 and continues today at the federal level. Frances Stevenson/ Daily Journal.

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson held an event at the Fergus Falls Veterans Home to speak with veterans and give pins to Vietnam War veterans and wives of deceased Vietnam War veterans.

These pins were from the United States of America Vietnam Veterans Commemoration.

"As you all know we didn't do a very good job as a society recognizing the people from Vietnam when they came back," Peterson said. "And a lot of the Vietnam vets have had a lot of problems partly because of the way that all came down. This fellow and some other created this organization to belatedly thank the Vietnam Veterans."

Peterson was elected to the Minnesota Senate originally in 1977 and immediately started trying to create the Veterans home in Fergus Falls which eventually was opened in 1998.

"I worked on this for 20 years when I was in the state senate and then when I was in Congress until we finally got it built," Peterson said. "You can see what a great thing it's been for the community and for the veterans. So we do this almost every year."

Peterson spoke about his time in the Army, his work in Congress, and answered individual questions of the crowd, ranging from medical issues with the V.A. to political questions.

Peterson is seeking another term in office this fall, running against Republican Dave Hughes. Peterson is the ranking member of the House Committee on Agriculture and has been working with other committee members to finish the farm bill.

"The chairman put an offer on the table yesterday that got us a lot closer to getting this done," Peterson said. "I'm not in charge but I'm part of the process. But I'm hoping with what they put on the table yesterday afternoon with some changes they proposed for the food stamps that by the end of the week we can come to a conclusion."

Changes to SNAP benefits have been one of the most contested pieces of the farm bill, particularly changes to work requirements within the SNAP benefits program.

"What the house Republicans put forward was universally opposed by all of my members on the committee so they sent me a letter saying if this is what they want to do we don't want to talk to them anymore," Peterson said. "So we have 23 hearings on SNAP, there were a lot of things brought up in those hearings. I assumed that we were going to take those hearing and incorporate them into the bill but that's not what they did. They did not put one single thing into the bill from those hearings. What they put was this work stuff out of a group from Florida that had never been brought up at all in any of the 23 hearings."

One of Peterson's focuses if re-elected he noted will be on the deficit and reducing spending to try and prevent adding more money to the current $21 trillion U.S. debt reported in March, 2018.

"My biggest concern overall is that we have forgotten about the deficit," Peterson said. "I've been one of the ones who's been harping about the deficit for over 20 years."

One of the veterans Peterson spoke to at the event was an old face from his childhood who with his brothers would spend each summer picking potatoes on the Peterson's farm. Peterson noted he hadn't seen this man in over 50 years.

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