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United Way brings new veteran wellness program to Iron Range

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CHISHOLM, MN -- A new health and wellness program put together by United Way of Northeastern Minnesota is hoping to give Iron Range veterans a new community of support.

The Veterans for Wellness Passport program was put together by United for Veterans, a partnership between local veteran groups and UWNEMN.

"During the pandemic we had one of our committee members who had relayed to us through some of their other outreach with other local veterans that they had a group of several who were saying that were feeling isolated," said Erin Shay, Executive Director of UWNEMN.

The program starts in April with monthly activities ranging from yoga classes, bike rides on the Mesabi trail, and more during the winter.

Shay adds, "This is free of charge for veterans, so if a veteran doesn't have a bike, we want to make sure that they know we will be renting bikes for them."

United for Veterans committee member and Air Force veteran Chad Buus was one of the driving forces behind the program.

"We're really focused on physical activity, giving people an outlet," said Buss who served in the Air Force from 1999 to 2003. "And really trying to re-establish that comradery they might be missing since they left the service."

Buus and officials with United Way add the activities aren't meant to be therapeutic, but a way to meet others with similar experiences and gain friendships in the process.

"I think it's important at the very least to know who your fellow veterans are and know where to turn to and talk to somebody who might have a shared experience or might have the resources available," said Buus.

The program is for veterans of all ages living or working on the Iron Range.

United Way is planning on bringing the program to those in Koochiching County in the future.

Veterans have the choice to sign-up for all activities or just one.

For more information click here.

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Emma Quinn

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