Al Franken is helping to collect Minnesota veterans' stories

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Al Franken is sitting down with Minnesota veterans to collect and preserve their stories – and encouraging others to do the same.

The DFL Senator, in his second term representing the state, is aiding the Library of Congress' "Veterans History Project" – an effort that started in 2000 to make the personal accounts of United States veterans accessible for future generations.

On Sunday, Franken did an on-camera interview with Trista Matacastillo, who served with the Navy, Marines and Minnesota Army National Guard, WCCO reports. He announced his involvement in the project at the start of September.

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If you want to help

On Monday, officials with the Library of Congress and members of Franken's staff will hold a free training session for anyone who wants to help – either by conducting interviews with veterans, or collecting documents (letters, diaries, photos, and any other items that could be put in the archive).

It's from 9 a.m. through noon at Inver Hills Community College, in Room LA 210.

There are approximately 369,149 veterans in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs 2014 report. About 21 percent of them are at least 65 years old. Since 9/11, more than 66,000 Minnesotans have been discharged from active duty – about 43,000 served in a combat zone.

October is Veterans Voice Month – and Minnesota is the first state in the U.S. to devote a full month to honoring veterans' stories, the National Endowment for the Humanities says.

"Minnesotans have always proudly served our nation during times of war and we need to recognize those sacrifices and preserve their stories," Franken said in the news release. "I'll be working with Minnesota veterans groups and advocates, as well as with schools across the state to encourage veterans and their families to tell their stories."

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