by Dennis Dalman
After giving his talk, State Rep. Tim O’Driscoll (R-Sartell) was stunned when he saw before him a large audience of veterans rise to their feet to give him a thunderous standing ovation.
It happened during the annual meeting of the National Guard Association of Minnesota in April at the Kelly Inn in St. Cloud. That group had earlier requested O’Driscoll talk about ways in which he has helped veterans personally and as a representative in St. Paul. O’Driscoll’s audience at the event included top officers of both the Minnesota Air Force and Army National Guard.
“I’m really honored to work for our veterans,” keynote speaker O’Driscoll told the group.
O’Driscoll also spoke at the annual Memorial Day service May 27 in Sartell’s Veterans Park, a ceremony O’Driscoll was a key player, along with Sartell American Legion Post 277, in organizing more than 10 years ago.
The former Sartell mayor has received many awards for his long-time work for veterans’ needs. His work on behalf of veterans began not long after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. As American troop build-ups began overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, O’Driscoll – along with Sartell residents Dave Lindbloom and Ann Doyscher-Domres – coordinated an effort to send hundreds of comfort-item packages to military personnel serving in those countries.
O’Driscoll helped start and direct the “Warrior to Citizen” program in central Minnesota. The program helps identify veterans’ needs, as well as the needs of their families, then coordinates area-wide resources to help them. The resources include those in the private sector, as well as ones available through local, state and federal levels of government and non-profit agencies and religious organizations.
When he was mayor of Sartell, O’Driscoll led efforts to create “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon” in central Minnesota, which works to bring together pledges and support for veterans’ needs and their families in the cities of Sartell, St. Joseph, St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids, St. Augusta, Cold Spring, Rockville and Richmond. Those cities now have “Yellow Ribbon City” on their roadside city signs.
As a Minnesota legislator, one of the first things O’Driscoll did is to request an assignment on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, on which he worked hard. He also works on several committees that deal in one way or another with veterans’ needs. This year, he is co-author of the first-ever Omnibus Veterans Bill, which includes many measures to help returning Minnesota veterans, as well as veterans from older wars.