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The Socialist Republic of International Falls

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Yesterday's 4th of July parade in International Falls, MN is causing a great stir. That's because Kevin Adee, the parade manager, decided a disabled veteran named Charlie Makidon couldn't enter the parade. First, here's some background information on Mr. Makidon: He's from Backus, MN. He's the former Commander of Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 2, which is based in St. Paul, MN.

Mr. Makidon's 'offense' was to attempt to pass out literature with Congressman Rick Nolan's voting record against military veterans. Mr. Makidon spent $160 on literature to hand out at the parade in his attempt to educate the voters in Minnesota's Eighth District.

Acccording to Congressman Nolan's defense issues page, Nolan is a champion for veterans:

I am working on the following bills to help our service members, veterans, and their families:

The Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act (H.R.4031) - a small but positive step toward addressing the widespread lack of accountability and negligence within the VA.

Manufacuturing Jobs for Veterans Act (H.R.4629) - Encourages manufacturers to hire returning veterans, and requires the Department of Labor to award $50 million in grants over the next 5 years to establish state pilot programs for job training & more.

HEALTHY Vets Act (H.R. 635) - Enables rural veterans to use local healthcare providers in their hometowns instead of travelling to the nearest big city for VA facilities.

Veterans Mental Health Accessibility Act (H.R.1725) - I am an original cosponsor of this bill, which would allow any veteran who served in a combat zone on any U.S. military operation to seek treatment for service-connected mental illness (including post-traumatic stress disorder), regardless of when the condition manifests itself. This would make services and treatmetn available to all veterans who have served in combat in previous military operations, such as WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam. Additionally, this billion maintains the role of the VA to treat only service-related disorders, and allows its health care professionals to diagnose mental disorders and illnesses according to established procedures.

Veterans Backlog Reduction Act (H.R.1739) - Automatically provides provision benefits to veteran disability claims if they have not been process in 125 days.

That last bill is especially damning to Nolan. Giving veterans the 'right' to opt for private care is the right thing. Giving veterans that 'right' after 125 days isn't the right thing. That's virtually no change from the policies from the Phoenix VA Medical Facility, where 40 veterans died while waiting for care.

Mr. Makidon simply wanted to tell voters the full story about Congressman Nolan's voting record on veterans. That didn't happen because Kevin Adee said he couldn't participate because the parade was "a family event." Terry Stone, the Chairman of the Koochiching County Republican Party, was at the parade.

When Mr. Stone heard what had happened, he confronted Adee. That's when Adee said that the parade was a family event. Stone replied that the Constitution is a family thing, too." In an interview with the Examiner, Stone noted that the Founding Fathers wanted political speech to be the highest form of protected speech. Finally, Stone said "I guess the First Amendment's protections don't extend all the way to the Canadian border."

Having a disabled veteran silenced anytime is unacceptable. Having that veteran's First Amendment rights shot down on the 4th of July is insulting to veterans and to the people that support veterans.

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