MADISON, WI -- Each year, one of my top priorities is to honor Wisconsin’s veterans and their loved ones by working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass legislation that allows our state to give back to them for their brave sacrifices. The 2021-22 legislative session has been no exception. November is National Veteran and Military Families Month, and I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of the work that has been done on behalf of these valued members of our communities. I am proud to author and co-author the following bills that provide veterans and their families with the support and appreciation they so rightfully deserve.
Expanding Access to the Outdoors
- Assembly Bill 285 would allow a veteran over the age of 65 to use a public boat launch without paying a fee.
- Assembly Bill 694 would require the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to make the fourth full weekend in July a free fishing weekend for veterans. During this special event weekend, the DNR would be required to waive requirements for veterans to have a fishing license and pay fees to fish in Wisconsin.
- LRB-1682 would provide Gold Star Families with free state park admission by waiving the requirement for a vehicle admission receipt for any vehicle that is occupied by someone who qualifies for a gold star lapel button.
Improving Access to Education and Educational Resources for Veterans
- Assembly Bill 38 would exempt veterans and members of the armed forces from admissions application fees at University of Wisconsin System schools and technical colleges.
- LRB-1668 would designate the second week of November as “Veterans Education Week,” a time which would be used to inform veterans about the benefits they are entitled to and help them to maximize their use of these benefits.
More to Uplift and Honor Wisconsin’s Veterans and Families
- Senate Joint Resolution 74 recognized November 11, 2021, as Veterans Day and honored all veterans who have so bravely served our state and country.
- Assembly Bill 48 would expand veterans benefits to include those who served in Laos in support of the United States during the Vietnam War.
- Assembly Bill 157 would increase the grant award amounts to counties for veterans services to be $22,000 for a county with a population of less than 45,000 and $25,000 for a county with a population of 45,000 or more.
- Assembly Bill 203 would expand eligibility for who qualifies to have a veteran status indicated on their driver’s license or state ID card.
- Assembly Bill 245 would lower the disability threshold to 70% to broaden eligibility for the veterans and surviving spouses property tax credit.
- LRB-1672 would allow a court to consider a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis to be a mitigating factor when making a sentencing decision.
- LRB-1674 would add a veteran services coordinator who is employed at a Wisconsin Technical College and a veteran services coordinator employed at a UW System institution as members to the Council on Veterans Programs to serve one-year terms.
- LRB-4176 would provide an additional 7 full-time positions to The Veterans Outreach and Recovery Program (VORP) so it can extend its reach to more veterans in underserved communities and also increase the critical services it provides.
National Veteran and Military Families Month provides us with a designated time to remember our veterans, their families, and the sacrifices they have made to defend the values we hold most dear. However, we must remember to support veterans and their loved ones all year long as well. The unfortunate reality is that after bravely serving our state and country, many veterans struggle to make ends meet. We must always do all we can to ensure these individuals have access to the resources they need to live happy, healthy lives.
Getting all of the above bills passed would allow our state to make progress towards ensuring this is the reality for all of Wisconsin’s veterans and military families, but the work does not stop there.
To my fellow veterans in Northwestern Wisconsin and across the state, I want to extend my sincerest thanks and gratitude for your service. To the many military families throughout Wisconsin, thank you for the tremendous sacrifices you regularly make as well. These efforts do not go unnoticed. I hope you feel appreciated not just this month, but every month.