Local Veteran to Veteran Counseling at Risk Again at the Hands of DVA
Madison – State Senator Jon Erpenbach is asking Governor Walker to order the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) to immediately reopen the grants process for the County Veteran’s Service Offices because the agency is denying grant applications without administrative criteria for the denials. Erpenbach sent the letter today.
“Your legislatively enacted 2015-2017 state budget, upon recommendation of the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), significantly changed how the County Veterans Service Office (CVSO) grants are paid to counties for services provided to local veterans. Most notable is the elimination of the salary support for local officers that directly serve veterans. Starting in 2018, not one state dollar can be used to pay for the veteran-to-veteran counseling that CVSO officers currently conduct on behalf of the state helping veterans enroll and receive the benefits they deserve. That is a tragedy and a disservice to our veterans,” said Erpenbach.
The state budget specifically outlined five allowable expenses for the CVSO grant. The DVA was charged to allocate the grants in accordance with those criteria. The DVA was also ordered to write an administrative rule, which is standard practice, to address any issues the law does not solve while still ensuring Legislative intent.
“I am left wondering how we have gotten to this position. The DVA has always had the authority to write a rule to further describe how they want state dollars to be used at CVSO offices, they have simply not done that in the past. Now the Legislature has directed them to do so and still they have not written the rules? The failure to act on a Legislative order is astonishing,” Erpenbach said.
A sampling of 30 counties surveyed showed ten county veteran offices were completely denied their statutory CVSO grant. Fourteen were denied in part. Only six of the thirty counties received their allowable grant in the application process. According to the US Census 395,931 veterans live in Wisconsin.