Minnesota’s Seventh District Congressman, Collin C. Peterson, will serve on the House committee on veterans affairs in the 116th Congress, a position he previously held from 1995 to 2001.

Having served in the North Dakota National Guard from 1963-69, Peterson brings personal military experience and perspective to the House committee on veterans affairs.

“As a veteran, I look forward to returning to the House committee on veterans affairs and working with Chairman Mark Takano and ranking member Phil Roe,” said Peterson. “Congress needs to explore options to improve healthcare and support services for our nation’s fast-growing veteran population.”

One of Peterson’s priorities on the committee is to better recognize service members.

In keeping with that commitment, Peterson recently visited Missouri’s Fort Leonard Wood to greet the men and women training where he did.

Congressman Peterson’s office is also a partner with the Vietnam War 50th Commemoration Program, which allows him to present special Vietnam Veteran lapel pins to eligible veterans at Veterans Day ceremonies, veterans home visits and honor flight fly-ins in Washington, D.C.

Another of Peterson’s priorities is to secure federal funding matches for proposed 72-bed veterans homes in Bemidji and Montevideo. Local communities and the state legislature have already raised significant funds for both homes.

The state will submit formal funding requests to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Peterson will actively support each federal match application as they are considered by the agency.

Finally, Peterson plans to focus the committee’s attention on toxic wounds of war, such as exposure to Agent Orange and burn pits.

During a visit to the Fergus Falls Veterans Home, Peterson met a Vietnam veteran who suffers from Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS), which is a blood disorder and precursor to cancer.

Although this veteran was exposed to Agent Orange, he continues to be denied medical coverage for this disease, because the Department of Veterans Affairs does not currently recognize a link between MGUS and exposure to Agent Orange.

In response, Peterson led a letter with former ranking member Tim Walz and 27 members of Congress to urge the Office of Management and Budget to add MGUS, bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, Parkinson-like tremors and hypertension to the presumptive list of diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure.

Due to existing Democratic caucus limitations on committee assignments, Peterson persuaded House leadership to grant him a waiver.

That waiver allows him to serve on the House committee on veterans affairs in addition to his role serving as chairman of the House agriculture committee.