Lassa Urges Governor to Fund Veterans Services
Most Funding Requests for County Veterans Offices Being Denied
MADISON – State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) called on Governor Scott Walker to address a change in veterans service funding that is resulting in most funding requests from County Veterans Service Offices (CVSO) being denied.
“Undermining state support for CVSOs hurts veterans,” Lassa wrote Walker. “We should be doing everything we can to strengthen their ability to help our returning heroes, not restricting their funding and making them jump through bureaucratic hoops.”
A provision passed in the state budget bill changed the funding for CVSOs from a block grant to reimbursement for expenses; however, the majority of such reimbursement requests have been denied since the law went into effect. In addition, the new provision will eliminate state support for compensating county veterans officers by 2018. Statutes require the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs to write rules specifying how the reimbursement process would work, but to date WDVA has not done so.
“CVSOs are our ‘boots on the ground’ in delivery of veterans’ services, working face to face with veterans and advocating for their needs at county, state and federal levels,” Lassa wrote. “Given that many of our returning military veterans have unprecedented needs, and that they often go without help because of a lack of guidance through layers of government programs, the role of the CVSO is even more important than when this program was created in 1946.”
Lassa urged Walker to push WDVA to issue an emergency rule clarifying the reimbursement program, and to return the program to a block grant in the next state budget. “Counties should have reliable funding for CVSOs, and should not have to undergo bureaucratic restrictions as they provide vital help and support for Wisconsin veterans,” she wrote.