As Memorial Day approaches, we are given an opportunity to reflect on the service of those who have bravely defended our country and its values. As a veteran myself, honoring fallen brothers and sisters is of great importance to me. The past several months have been filled with uncertainty, worry and division over how to best protect the state and country we all love. Memorial Day brings us together as Wisconsinites and Americans. It is a special holiday that reminds us of the values that we all hold dear and provides us with the chance to remember those who sacrificed their safety to ensure our own.
Memorial Day ceremonies may look different this year for some than they have in the past, but it is possible to honor the fallen and keep people safe at the same time. The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) will soon have a Memorial Day virtual commemoration on its website for veterans and their families to view together. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration (NCA) will also commemorate Memorial Day with wreath-laying ceremonies which will be live-streamed on the NCA's Facebook and Twitter pages. I will be visiting Greenwood Cemetery in Superior on Memorial Day as I have for the past 11 years.
The best way to honor the service of those who have made great sacrifices for our country is to ensure we continually advocate for the needs of veterans. It is crucial that Wisconsin's veterans are included in our efforts to support those who are struggling most during this public health crisis. Mary Kolar, Secretary of DVA, has encouraged Wisconsin residents to continue staying home when possible and take precautions to minimize potential spread of the virus. These efforts will help protect vulnerable populations, including residents of Wisconsin's Veterans Homes and other veterans who are members of at-risk communities. In order to assist veterans during these challenging times, Governor Tony Evers suspended several provisions of the Assistance to Needy Veterans Grant (ANVG) program, which allows for more veterans to access to emergency financial aid. This program provides low income veterans who have lost their source of income with needed subsistence payments and other health care grants.
This legislative session I was proud to work with fellow lawmakers to introduce bipartisan bills in honor of Wisconsin's veterans. I was also honored to serve as a member of the Assembly Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs for another session. I authored Assembly Bill 891 which would have designated a weekend in July as a special event weekend in which the Department of Natural Resources would waive, for veterans, the requirement to have a fishing license and pay the applicable fees in order to fish in Wisconsin waters. Additionally, my colleagues and I introduced legislation to recognize the 29th anniversary of the start of Operation Desert Storm and honor the veterans of this conflict as well as legislation to designate and mark the Ho-Chunk World War II Code Talkers Memorial Highway. It was refreshing to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle with the goal of providing us with new ways of remembering and honoring those who have served.
I would like to express my deep gratitude to those who lost their lives in service to their country. It is my sincere hope that all veterans and their families are able to safely observe this Memorial Day and that Wisconsinites take time to reflect on the values which unite us all and celebrate the lives of those who have died protecting these values.