Constituent Services Testimonials
David Winger from Hibbing
David Winger from Hibbing, Minnesota contacted our office requesting assistance obtaining a powered wheel chair that he could use in his home. David had been trying for about 2 years to get approved for a chair but has been denied twice and he could not afford to pay thousands of dollars for one out of his own pocket. We looked for alternative options for Mr. Winger to obtain the powered wheel chair he needed. We were able to reach out to the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) donor program in Minnesota that donates updated but used medical equipment to veterans. We worked with the DAV and David to set up a meeting place and have the chair delivered in person.
DULUTH NEWS TRIBUNE: Nolan helped with problem
Reader's View: Roger Lynn / Read Online
I had a most remarkable experience this spring thanks to Congressman Rick Nolan. Preparing for a mission trip to Jamaica as the only adult with my confirmation class, I discovered the night before leaving that my passport was out of date. I called Rep. Nolan, who immediately got his staff on the problem. Six hours later I had my passport, and we were on our way to an amazing week of service in Jamaica. We found the people at the Minneapolis passport office and the Nolan office in Duluth to be wonderfully understanding and helpful. Without their help, this amazing trip never would have happened. It is heartening in this cynical time of partisan politics to find a congressional representative like Nolan and government officials so dedicated to serving the public interest. Let’s be grateful for government that works.
MILLE LACS MESSENGER: Thanks to Rick Nolan
Letter to the Editor: Liane Heupel / Read Online
This is to thank Congressman Rick Nolan, our eighth District Representative for caring about veterans. My husband is a Vietnam veteran who routinely receives excellent health care through the St. Cloud VA. However, when it was determined that he needed a total knee replacement, he was required to use the Federal Veteran’s Choice Program. This program was initiated by congress with the intention of providing health care for veterans waiting over 30 days for necessary care, through private providers. Unfortunately it is a cumbersome system. After dealing with the Choice Program for many months, we contacted Congressman Nolan’s office. We received a personal reply from him almost immediately. He put us in touch with a staff member who helped us to navigate the Choice Program. Surgery was scheduled, follow-up appointments and physical therapy went smoothly and Ken is recovering nicely, feeling better than he has felt in years. Thank you Rick Nolan for truly caring about veterans, for honoring their service by helping to make sure they receive the care they were promised.
BRAINERD DISPATCH: Long delay
By Mike O'Rourke / Read Online
It may have been 50 years late but Rodney Dee Sullivan of Park Rapids finally received the medals he earned for his service in the U.S. Navy. The retired DNR district forester was presented with the National Service Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal Friday at a Veterans Round Table conducted by Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn. at the Crow Wing County Land Services Building. Nolan and a naval officer presented the awards to Sullivan. Sullivan served aboard on the USS Pickaway during the Gulf of Tonkin incident when the United States and North Vietnam engaged in a sea battle in August of 1964. Nolan explained that Sullivan's records somehow got lost somewhere along the way. He said members of the military make great sacrifices for the nation. "We have an obligation to take care of them when they return," he said. Sullivan, who was a second class machinist's mate, attended college on the GI Bill and worked as a DNR district forester in Cook. He later opened a private business as a logger in Park Rapids, where he is now retired.
DULUTH NEWS TRIBUNE: Duluth Army National Guardsman receives long-overdue medals
By Lisa Kaczke / Read Online
Joel Heller was celebrating his grandfather’s birthday on Sept. 11, 2001. Two days later, the Army National Guardsman had been activated and was patrolling in “full battle rattle” at Duluth International Airport.
“In the blink of an eye, my life changed,” he said. Heller headed to Fort Knox for basic training in 1996. In the following decade, he served as a Cavalry Scout in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq and was awarded a Purple Heart.
It took another decade to find out that he hadn’t received medals and ribbons honoring his service. That was remedied Wednesday as Heller received three medals and a ribbon with help from U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and Sherry Rodriguez, director of St. Louis County Veterans Services. Heller contacted Nolan’s office last month seeking help in receiving the medals from the Department of Veterans Affairs. It likely was a “clerical error” that caused the delay, Heller said, adding, “It gets forgotten about” when service members are discharged from the military. After the ceremony in Nolan’s Duluth office, Heller was in disbelief that a guy from the Central Hillside neighborhood had a U.S. congressman pinning a military medal on him. “This is just icing on the cake to me,” Heller said. Heller also got a kick out of retired Col. Ronald Hein of Duluth presenting one of the medals because a colonel showing up for a private first class was a rare sight. It wasn’t about the medals, he said, but about pride in his experience. “I’m proud. I’m proud of my service. I’m proud I served my country when they needed me the most,” he said. Heller, the son of a former Marine who served in Vietnam, said he was glad his 8-year-old son Noah Heller was able to see him receive the medals. It was an emotional day for Noah as he stood by his dad’s side, tears coming to his eyes as his dad talked about his service. Noah had been proudly telling his second-grade classmates about his dad’s medals for days leading up to the ceremony. “My son got to see this. … He got to see my sacrifice I had to go through,” Joel Heller said. Heller’s mom, Corrine Heller, was among the crowd of family and friends watching the ceremony. She was proud of both her sons who have served in the military, but it was hard to see them go overseas. “I don’t wish that on anybody,” she said after the ceremony. Heller received the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal and the Army Service Ribbon. The last medal Heller received was the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal as Nolan noted that it’s the medal that soldiers value the most. The medal is the “cream of the cream” because it’s only given to a small group of servicemembers who served in locations where combat ribbons don’t apply, Heller explained. It’s a medal that will give him “street cred” among veterans. He’s proud of his service, but he lost friends overseas and still is losing friends, with six of them committing suicide in the past eight years, he said. “I have side effects of my service, but that’s the price we have to pay when we put on the uniform,” he said. He dreams of a day when combat medals no longer will be needed. “I hope these are the last medals anyone has to receive,” he said.
LAKELAND PUBLIC TELEVISION: Veterans Roundtable
By Shane Lee / Read Online
Congressman Rick Nolan (D) visited Brainerd today to speak with veterans about issues in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and to award long overdue medals to a Vietnam Vet from Park Rapids. Rodney Sullivan received the National Service Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal nearly fifty years after returning from war. The major issues surrounding the VA are long wait times for health care, unsubstantial benefits, and difficulty accessing care in rural Minnesota. Nolan says the HEALTHY Vets Act would enable veterans in rural areas to visit local doctors, decreasing wait time, back-log, and travel time and cost.
Marvin Austin from Hoyt Lakes
Marvin Austin from Hoyt Lakes contacted our office requesting assistance with the Department of Veteran Affairs and his claim for additional benefits and back pay for service related injuries. Marvin was injured while on active duty in 1956. He fell off a plane wing into the scaffolding and injured the back and right hip. He has had chronic pain since the injury and has progressed with time. After working with the VA, we were able to assist the veteran in receiving back pay to the amount of $15,400 and an increase in disability benefits from 30% to 70% totaling approximately $1000 of additional benefits a month. We expedited his case, scheduling an exam with the VA and helping him get responses from the VA so he could receive the benefits he was owed.
David Danielson from Cloquet
David is a Vietnam Vet from the Fond du Lac Band, living in Cloquet. He served in the Marines during Vietnam, but had never received the benefits that he was owed due to a paperwork error on his DD214. David met Congressman Nolan at Fond du Lac during the grand opening of their Homeless Veteran Supportive housing facility, which is a project Congressman Nolan supported legislatively. We heard David’s story and began the process of working with the National Personnel Records Center to correct this error. The Personnel Records Center relayed the case to the Marine Corps due to the missing paperwork documenting his service. The Marine Corps found paper documentation in storage which confirmed David’s service, and as a result, David now has his updated DD214 and his proper recognition, the United States Expeditionary Medal. David had not been able to use VA benefits for 42 years, but he will now be able to work with Sherry Rodriquez at the St Louis County Veteran Service Office to rectify this and have his full complement of Veterans benefits.
HOMETOWN FOCUS: Nolan presents long-awaited medals to two northern Minnesota veterans
After working with the National Personnel Records Center and other agencies to retrieve long-awaited military service medals for two veterans, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan on Friday presented David Danielson and Michael Hartse with their medals in a medal pinning ceremony at his federal office in Duluth. David Danielson, from Cloquet, served in theMarine Corps in 1974 near the end of the Vietnam War. He saw action in Cambodia, being one of the only American troops to fight against the Khmer Rouge. A clerical error omitted parts of his service and his DD-214 was incomplete upon discharge from service. This prevented him from being eligible for veterans benefits and from receiving the military honors and awards he earned. He has been attempting to correct these records for over 40 years. After working with the National Personnel Records Center, the Marine Corps and the Department of the Navy, his records were corrected and he was awarded the United States Expeditionary Medal. Michael Hartse, from Bovey, served in the Army during Vietnam and received special orders awarding him the Combat Infantryman Badge. His service records did not reflect that award and recommendation. Congressman Nolan was able to work with the Department of the Army and the National Personnel Records Center to update his military records with this recommendation and ultimately award him multiple service medals. Upon review of his records he was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Army Commendation Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal and a Marksman Badge.
DULUTH NEWS TRIBUNE: Duluth soldier gets his medals
Duluth’s Danny Haglund served a year in a combat zone aboard the USS Annapolis in the Vietnam War — service that went officially unrecognized until Tuesday, when Haglund received a quartet of overdue service medals from Rep. Rick Nolan at the congressman’s Duluth office. Haglund joined the Navy in September 1967 and was assigned the job of boilerman. He was honorably discharged a year later. Haglund was presented with the Navy E Ribbon denoting permanent duty on U.S. Navy ships, the National Defense Service Medal awarded to service members who served honorably, the Vietnam Service Medal to recognize his service and a Meritorious Unit Commendation for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service, heroic deeds or valorous actions. According to Nolan spokeswoman Samantha Bisogno, Haglund’s case was a clerical error, because other individuals in his unit received these awards but he didn’t. He sought the congressman’s office for help after having heard of other veterans getting help securing recognition they’d earned, Bisogno said. “Clerical errors are relatively common, especially for Vietnam-era veterans because there weren’t computer systems keeping track of the awards,” she said. “So simple paperwork errors are usually the culprit." Duluth’s Danny Haglund served a year in a combat zone aboard the USS Annapolis in the Vietnam War — service that went officially unrecognized until Tuesday, when Haglund received a quartet of overdue service medals from Rep. Rick Nolan at the congressman’s Duluth office
Family of Marine Sergeant James Hubert
Marine Sergeant James Hubert died during World War Two. His remains were finally identified in 2015 and he will be returning home after 74 years. Sgt. Hubert’s sister Mary Kay Hagen and nephew Jay Hagen approached Congressman Nolan’s office at the suggestion of Duluth’s Honor Guard Captain John Marshall when issues arose scheduling the flight that Sgt. Hubert’s remains would return on. They were told that the flight time they were originally given might change. This would throw their schedule of events into chaos. Congressman Nolan worked with the Marine Corps to schedule and confirm the flight, ensuring that all of the ceremonies for Sgt. Hubert would go off as planned and relieve the family of any stress surrounding this uncertainty. His funeral with full military honors took place with Congressman Nolan’s Director of Consituent Services Bryn Sias attending the ceremony at Denfeld High School where his family was awarded a diploma and an “Honor D”, the highest honor given to students, in Sgt. Hubert’s name. Honors he was never able to receive because of his ultimate sacrifice while serving our country. The family was also escorted on a tour of the Denfeld clock tower where Sgt. Hubert’s sister, Mary Kay Hagen, was invited to write her brother’s name and graduation year. This is a long held tradition at Denfeld and his name will accompany the thousands of alumni who have also signed their names in the clock tower.