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Pawlenty speaks at state VFW convention in Rochester

By Elliot Mann

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Gov. Tim Pawlenty spoke to veterans at the state VFW convention in Rochester on Friday, voicing support for a group he largely spared from budget cuts during the unallotment process.

Pawlenty earlier this week used unallotment to balance the state’s funds after he and the DFL-controlled Legislature ended the session without agreeing to a budget. He has said that military programs were spared in cutting some $2.7 billion.

On Friday, Pawlenty referenced former president and U.S. Army five-star general Dwight D. Eisenhower while speaking to the vets.

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"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the timid or the weak," Pawlenty said. "I don’t mean to be disrespectful to anyone in our society, but the truth of the matter is, we continue to need strong and courageous people who are willing to say, ‘If my country needs me, I will raise my hand. I will do this.’"

Current VFW State Commander Stan Kowalski called the governor his friend and said Pawlenty has protected funding for veterans.

There are 52,000 VFW members statewide, which make up about 260 VFW posts.

Kowalski, who served in World War II, called for other veterans to join in efforts to help vets who are living with medical issues or economic troubles.

"It’s up to us vets to pick up our comrades that have fallen by the wayside — that are homeless or going through problems," he said. "If it happened to a vet in warfare, we wouldn’t let them lie wounded on the battlefield."

Above all, escalating wars need to cease, Kowalski said.

The federal government "needs to stop creating situations that create veterans," he said.

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