As the head of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA), it is with great pleasure that I share some details about Governor Walker’s proposed budget as it relates to veterans in our state.
The governor clearly understands the needs of Wisconsin’s veterans and the ever-changing nature of how we as an agency provide for veterans, and has given us the tools and financial resources to do so.
Wisconsin without a doubt leads the way in providing for our veterans – from education to jobs to healthcare.
We have the very best veterans benefits, programs and services, and this budget maintains that tradition.
Walker’s top priorities include jobs and workforce development.
Veterans often face a tougher time getting into, or back into, the workforce after their military service.
Our job is to make that easier for veterans through programs that reach as many as possible with the most information possible.
To help us help veterans, this budget transfers the Disabled Veterans Outreach Program and Local Veterans Employment Representative Program from the Department of Workforce Development to the WDVA, strengthening the veteran-specific focus while maintaining strong cooperation with the overall strategies of workforce development.
In addition to the tools necessary to get veterans to work, we know a focus on education will lead to better skill sets, better employees, and more jobs.
We must reach every veteran possible and one way this budget does that is by expanding veterans education benefits.
In this budget, the residency requirement for Wisconsin GI Bill benefits is changed to allow veterans who have been residents of Wisconsin for five years to receive education benefits, not just those veterans who entered military from Wisconsin.
This budget doesn’t forget those family members who support our nation’s heroes.
It increases the opportunity for spouses of disabled veterans to use benefits that may have otherwise previously expired or had a shelf-life that did not allow adequate time for spouses to fully benefit.
It also invests in the communities that support veterans.
This budget increases grants to veterans service organizations which strengthens their ability to provide important services such as claims, transportation, rehabilitation and mental health services to veterans.
Walker’s budget also works to ensure that Wisconsin’s veterans homes are the very best.
Our largest home, the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King, receives increased staffing and spending authority.
Overtime will be reduced, care and services will be improved – members will benefit greatly from more specialized care with optimal patient to staff ratios.