Rep. Gallagher starts new sponsor program for area veterans

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) -- Wisconsin Representative Mike Gallagher launches a new sponsor program for veterans returning from overseas.

The program is called the Northeast Wisconsin (NEW) Battalion and Welcome Home Sponsor Program in Brown County Friday.

Gallagher said all too often there’s a disconnect for veterans when they return home from active duty. He said there are a lot of local organizations that want to help veterans get back on their feet, whether that’s medically or financially, but he said it’s sometimes hard for them to find the right help in a timely fashion.

“We are trying to serve as that bridge, that connective tissue, where by a veteran from northeast Wisconsin is coming back home to Northeastern Wisconsin, we make that transition as easy as possible and we plug him or her into that veteran community,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher said his program is different because he is pairing veterans with other veterans.

“What I have seen is a lot of times veterans are unwilling to talk about their experience, but if it’s with a fellow vet, you kind of have that shared understanding, experience and language that allows you to open up a bit and it just creates a community of people that are more naturally suited to coming together,” said Gallagher.

Dick Marbes with Disabled American Veterans said there’s a sense of commroderie when talking to someone who has also served their country.

“My personal opinion is if I am a veteran and looking for information that would benefit a veteran, a former military person, I think I would be more comfortable with someone who I can say has been there and done that, or talked to other people who have been there,” said Marbes. “I think there is a veteran-to-veteran connection.”

Gallagher said they are still in the early stages of this first-of-its-kind sponsorship program.

“We want to make sure when we get those people that they are the right people, that they are qualified people,” said Marbes. “So we are being very careful in how we do this.”

If it goes well, Gallagher said he would like to expand the program to other surrounding counties.

“Ideally we want it to be a mentor program where veterans are paired with veterans and get plugged into the community, but it can grow into something bigger than that,” said Gallagher.