Remembering Wisconsin veterans – not only on Memorial Day, but in the state budget.
Wisconsin Veterans Secretary John Scocos says Wisconsin is one of the nation's top states in providing benefits for its military veterans – in recognizing those who fought for and served this country. But, he says, we can't stop now.
"We have to be committed to continuing these programs during these severe economic times, and to be committed to help reintegrate our newest returning veterans to society."
With the state budget deficit now at an estimated $6.6-billion, the governor recently announced across-the-board cuts in state government to help fill that shortfall, including returning 16 days of his own salary .
Scocos acknowledges that everyone needs to do their part, but his agency gets less than 2% of their budget from the state, and must continue to support veterans. Specifically, Scocos cites the Mission Welcome Home program and the IOU program – not only providing the benefits but also outreach programs so veterans know what's available to them.
Scocos adds caring for aging veterans is a big priority for his department.
"We have to find ways to meet the needs of those veterans, look at the demographics – how they're changing, and come in with plans, efficiencies to do that."
The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee on Friday approved $25,000 for a feasibility study on constructing a veterans assisted living facility in Kenosha County.
Scocos stresses the importance of extending the solvency of the Veterans Trust Fund, and to support the Wisconsin Veterans Museum with GPR. Scocos says currently, Wisconsin veterans cover most of the funding when many non-veterans enjoy the facility.