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Veteran services offices should be funded and operated by the state, Minnehaha commissioner says

A proposal in the South Dakota Legislature would require one officer for every 4,000 veterans.

Dean Karsky.jpg
Minnehaha County Commissioner Dean Karsky.
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SIOUX FALLS — The state of South Dakota should take over the funding and operation of veteran services offices, Minnehaha County Commissioner Dean Karsky said Tuesday, Jan. 17.

A bill introduced in the state Legislature would add an officer in each county for every 4,000 veterans. There are about 13,000 veterans living in Minnehaha County which would required adding three officers, Karsky said.

That expansion would mean an increase cost of about $250,000.

“That’s significant for the county,” Karsky said during the commission's regular meeting Tuesday.

Karsky, who is a veteran, said the one current officer and staff handle issues “quite well," and he hasn't heard any complaints. A central office, funded and operated by the state, could be much more efficient, he said.

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County resident and veteran John Cunningham told the commissioners he agreed with Karsky and said he had never used the services of the office although he said he believes there are veterans “desperately” in need of help.

Karsky said the state currently only contributes about $15,000 of the $60,000 for the one veteran services officer.

He added that in years past veterans made up about 10% of the nation’s population but that has trended downward to about 1.5% to 2% currently.

The bill increasing the veterans services officer has a long way to go in the legislature. But Karsky said he hopes for a new look at the issue.

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