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Cramer Announces Formation of Veterans Advisory Board

Jun 27, 2013
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Kevin Cramer announced the formation of his Veterans Advisory Board, a group of North Dakota veterans organization leaders who will provide guidance on important issues for former and retired servicemembers.

“Our veterans young and old face serious issues which deserve the full attention of Congress. The delay in claims processing at the Veterans Administration and the lack of a strong support network for those returning home from our current wars are unacceptable government failures, and I look forward to working with this brain trust of North Dakota veterans and advocates who know firsthand the kind of solutions needed to fix our veteran support system,” said Cramer.

The Veterans Advisory Board will convene for its first meeting on August 5 in Bismarck to tackle a variety of issues including the VA disability claims backlog, the President’s proposed medical treatment fee increases, suicide prevention, sexual assault, and programs for newly retired servicemembers.

The members of the board are:

Brenda Bergsrud – Brenda is the Women and Minority Veterans Coordinator and Benefits Specialist with the North Dakota Department of Veteran Affairs, and has organized Reservation outreach programs at both Spirit Lake and Turtle Mountain. She resides in Rolla.

Lt. Colonel Davina French – Davina is the Government Affairs Officer for the North Dakota National Guard, and is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, where she served as the company commander of the 957 Multi-Role Bridge Company. She is a resident of Bismarck.

John Hanson – John is an Air Force Veteran, former member of the North Dakota Army National Guard, and State Commander for the North Dakota Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). He now serves on the VFW National Legislative Committee as a veterans advocate in Washington, D.C. He is a Legacy Life Member of the VFW, Life Member of the Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, Red River Valley Motorcyclists, and the Air Force Sgts. Association. John recently retired from the Grand Forks Air Force Base and resides in Grand Forks.

Rusty Ouart – Rusty served in the North Dakota National Guard and received the Purple Heart medal for wounds suffered in the Iraqi theatre. Rusty is a member of the Order of the Purple Heart. He resides in Fargo.

Warren Tobin – Warren is the current Department Adjutant of the Disabled American Veterans, and a 20 year veteran of the United States Air Force. He is in his 18th year as the Stutsman County Veterans Service Officer. Warren has also served with the American Legion, Professional Veterans Advocates of North Dakota, and AMVETS. He resides in Jamestown.

Lonnie Wangen – Lonnie is a 27 year member of the North Dakota National Guard and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is the Vice President of the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs as well as a member of the American Legion, the Retired Enlisted Association, Navy League, Reserve Officers Association, North Dakota National Guard Association, AMVETS, VFW, and DAV. Lonnie currently serves as the Commissioner of Veterans Affairs for the State of North Dakota and resides in Horace.

Prior to his time in Congress, Cramer served as Chairman of the Roughrider Honor Flight Committee. Hundreds of North Dakota World War II veterans were flown to Washington, D.C. at no personal expense to experience the memorials built in their honor.