Gov. Tony Evers recognized and celebrated Veterans Day with a video message honoring veterans, thanking them for their service to the country, and reaffirming his commitment to supporting veterans and their loved ones. Gov. Evers also proclaimed Nov. 11, 2022, as “Veterans Day” in Wisconsin. A copy of the governor’s Veterans Day proclamation is available here. Gov. Evers’ 2022 Veterans Day video message is available here, and a transcript of the video message is available below. Hello, Wisconsin. Governor Tony Evers here. Today, we're honoring Veterans Day and all the brave folks who served our state and country, including the more than 300,000 veterans who call Wisconsin home. As a state, we're proud to be a key partner in the work to help ensure that each of those 300,000 individuals and their families have the tools and resources to thrive in their civilian life. We know that veterans often face unique hurdles when they return to civilian life. From mental health and substance use disorders, housing and employment, and so much more, and these challenges all too often stand in the way of veterans living their best and fullest lives. Through our budget investments over the last several years, we've worked to address the challenges facing our veterans, but we can and should do more. Earlier this year, I kept my promise to Wisconsin's veterans and created a Blue Ribbon Commission on Veteran Opportunity to support our veterans and tackle the challenges they're facing head-on. Made up of advocates for veterans, leaders in the military community, and most importantly, veterans and their families, this commission allowed folks to share their lived experiences and input to find real solutions to help and support Wisconsin veterans. And we're already seeing the results of this work. Just last month, I was proud to use the Commission's final report and recommendations to make a $10 million investment in veterans services across the state. This included supporting and expanding access to veteran mental health services, directing new funding for the Veterans Outreach and Recovery Program, creating a rental assistance program to serve homeless veterans, and increasing funding for the Hire Heroes Program at the Department of Workforce Development. This investment also included providing an additional $1.5 million to our county and Tribal veterans service offices to increase allocations by 100 percent. These investments are going to make a real difference for veterans and their families across the state, but as I said, there's always more we can do. Just as our veterans have upheld and defended the freedoms and values we hold dear, we must also uphold our commitment to ensuring both they and their families have the full range of support and services needed to thrive. And I can think of no better day than today to reaffirm ourselves to that commitment. So, on behalf of the entire state, let me share my sincere appreciation and thanks to our nation's heroes and their families. Thank you for your service and immense sacrifices. You exemplify the best our state has to offer with a deep sense of duty, loyalty, respect, integrity, personal courage, and selfless service. We owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude, and I encourage Wisconsinites across the state to take this opportunity to join me in thanking our veterans today and every day. Thank you. Earlier this year, Gov. Evers delivered on his promise to Wisconsin veterans and created the Blue Ribbon Commission on Veteran Opportunity, as announced in his 2022 State of the State address. The Commission was tasked with developing comprehensive, long-term recommendations to help address the challenges facing Wisconsin’s more than 300,000 veterans. Following the release of the Commission’s final report and based on the Commission’s recommendations, Gov. Evers announced a $10 million investment in veteran services across the state. This investment included:
$4.5 million to support veteran mental health initiatives, including supporting community-based programs, increasing access to emergency services, and investing in peer support programs.
$2 million to create a rental assistance program for homeless veterans. This was also a recommendation from the Interagency Council on Homelessness’ “Welcoming Wisconsin Home” report.
An additional $1.5 million for the Veterans Outreach and Recovery Program (VORP), which provides case management and support to veterans and connects veterans to community services, including substance use treatment, housing, education, and mental healthcare. This investment is intended to fund seven additional positions to serve veterans across the state.
An additional $1.5 million for county veteran services offices (CVSOs) and Tribal veterans service offices (TVSOs), which help veterans connect to benefits, preventative programming, and family engagement activities. The funding will increase allocations to CVSOs and TVSOs by 100 percent, ensure TVSO payments are not being prorated, and increase payments to part-time CVSOs.
An additional $500,000 for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Developments’ Hire Heroes Program, which provides services to veterans with high barriers to employment and reimburses employers for certain costs when hiring veteran employees.
Additionally, the 2021-23 biennial budget, which Gov. Evers signed last year, provided increased resources for veterans, including more than $150,000 over the biennium to increase funding for Veterans Service Office grants and $100,000 annually for VORP to promote suicide prevention and awareness among veterans. The Evers Administration is committed to ensuring Wisconsin veterans have the tools and resources they need to thrive in their civilian lives. To learn more about resources and services available to veterans and their families in Wisconsin, visit the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs website.
Scenes below from the LCO Veteran's Day Powwow held at the LCO School on Nov. 11th. Pictures by Roberta Crowe