Coleman visits campus, applauds U group’s efforts

by Naomi Scott

Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., spoke to a group of approximately 70 students, community members and military personnel as part of a donation drive put on by the Comfort for Courage student group Wednesday.

During his speech, Coleman applauded the efforts of the group, which is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that has collected more than two tons of items for military members since its inception in December.

Tyler Richter, Comfort for Courage vice president and The Minnesota Daily Board of Directors’ vice chairman, said Coleman’s visit was a way to make the group more visible.

“By introducing ourselves to him, he’s able to carry our message much farther than we can on our own,” Richter said.

Coleman said troops deserve recognition from people back home.

“We’re celebrating regular folks who are fighting to win democracy in the Middle East and preserve our security,” he said. “We owe them our gratitude, and even if it’s only a small package, it’s a really big gesture.”

Coleman also said the group is making history through its efforts.

“(Military members’) courage brings all of us comfort here at home,” he said. “Efforts like this change the world.”

Lindsay Brown, a Minnesota Army National Guard member and music performance senior, said he was impressed Coleman took time out of his busy schedule to talk to a small student group.

“It’s encouraging to witness the senator pledge his support both for Comfort for Courage and for the U.S. military,” Brown said.

Michael Reif, a second-year law student and University Law School Democrats vice president, said Coleman’s speech glossed over the major problems of the war.

“I think Democrats are fully behind our soldiers,” said Reif, who did not attend the event.

“But we have to question why we’re still sending packages – why we’re still there.”

Andy Davis, Comfort for Courage vice president of government and military affairs and a political science junior, said membership has been steadily increasing in the group.

Since its inception, the group has met with politicians such as Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-Minn. Two weeks ago, it shipped more than 350 letters with phone cards inside to troops overseas.

Davis said the group is different from other groups that support military personnel.

“The separating factor of us from other soldier support groups is that we’re the peers of the soldiers,” he said. “And I think we really have the motivation to fuel a project like this.”