Memorial Day is our nation’s holiday to honor those that have fought and died in protecting the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. While we take time to remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in their service to our country, it is also important to remember those who have and continue to serve in our military. Preserving and strengthening our state programs for our veterans continues to be a priority of the State Legislature.
Wisconsin has sought to honor our service men and women by designating 2012 as the year of the veteran. In addition to this designation, which was issued by the Governor, a number of actions affecting veterans have been taken this year, such as conducting job fairs, passing veteran-supporting legislation, and ensuring funding for veterans programs.
Beginning with the state budget, the State Legislature and Governor made positive changes to support veterans’ programs by repaying money to the veterans trust fund that was lapsed into the general fund in 2009 and 2010 and providing a one-time transfer of $5 million into the veterans trust fund. In addition, over $6 million was allotted for a new 72-bed facility at the Veterans Home in Chippewa Falls which is scheduled to open in November 2012.
I am pleased with our state’s focus on getting veterans back into the workforce after deployment, including veterans job fairs that have been held across Wisconsin. This effort also included legislation passed by the State Legislature and signed into law by the Governor that creates a tax credit for those hiring unemployed disabled veterans, creating an incentive for businesses to hire disabled veterans.
State law requires professionals in a number of occupations to obtain credentials to work in Wisconsin. Three bills passed this session will now make licensure easier for veterans. First, 2011 Wisconsin Act 120 allows the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) to count any relevant training an applicant receives in connection with military service to be counted towards satisfying training requirements for the credential they are applying for. Second, 2011 Wisconsin Act 210 extends the expiration date from 90 days to 180 days for professionals who already hold their credentials and go on active duty. Finally, 2011 Wisconsin Act 209 establishes a program under which licensing agencies grant fee waivers to qualified veterans and service members who are applying for a professional or occupational licenses.
As we celebrate Memorial Day, I encourage you to remember all the sacrifices veterans have made in order to defend our freedoms. I thank all those past and present that have and are serving and dedicating their lives in fighting to protect our freedoms. Please feel free to contact me by calling my office at 1-800-862-1092 or sending me an e-mail at Sen.Harsdorf@legis.wi.gov.