WI Veterans Affairs Secretary-designee touts money for vets in state budget

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GRAND CHUTE, Wis. (WBAY) - Now that Governor Tony Evers has signed the state budget, the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary-designee is traveling the state, talking about the funding meant for those who served our country.

Wisconsin Veterans Affairs Secretary-designee Mary Kolar (WBAY photo)

The nearly $30 million earmarked for veterans' issues in the state budget is being called historic. And WDVA Secretary-designee Mary Kolar wants veterans in Northeast Wisconsin to know funding is available to help them. That's why she, along with Department of Revenue Secretary-designee Peter Barca, are holding town hall meetings across the state.

According to Kolar, "This outreach is so important, to remind veterans and their family members, because even when we have veterans who say I don't need it, take a look at what's available for our family members. There are benefits and services in the State of Wisconsin that you earned."

The visit by Kolar was not only a chance for Fox Valley veterans to ask questions about how the state can help them, but it was also an opportunity to show off the "Veterans Village" concept being created in Grand Chute.

Through community donations and some WDVA funding, plans are underway to create an all encompassing community for area veterans.

"Ideally, our concept is to come up with suitable housing, comprehensive housing across the age span of veterans from younger veterans just redeploying, those veterans that are older but still capable of taking care of themselves as far as senior living is concerned, and hospice, palliative, end of life care and general housing for those families," says Jim Strong, president of the Fox Valley Veterans Council.

While nine veterans live in the village right now, council officials are hopeful with the money earmarked in the budget it can apply for grants to continue expanding their program.

The hope is to create 96, below market housing options, along with other entities.

And hearing the state will continue to fund WDVA initiatives is a positive step forward for the council. Strong adds, "We have high confidence, based on the support we've received so far that our vision will become reality."