by Brian Hoffmann
Sheboygan County Board Member
EVER WONDER WHERE YOUR TAX DOLLARS GO?
This is my third article in a series trying to answer this question. Today we will look at the Veterans Service Office and the Veterans Service Commission.
Every county in Wisconsin (72) is required by law to have a Veterans Service Office and Veterans Service Commission. The office is staffed by Veterans Service Officer Todd Richter, Assistant Veterans Service Officer Craig Stewart, and one administrative assistant.
The total budget is $318,218.00 for the Veterans Service Office, and $20,812.00 for the Commission. This small staff serves 7,300 veterans. When these veterans have questions or need assistance regarding veteran benefits, the office is there for them and their families. The staff are all accredited to act on their behalf. In 2020 this advocacy helped bring in just under $42 million in federal benefits to Sheboygan County Veterans.
They also purchase and organize distribution of all the Memorial Day flags and markers for Sheboygan County cemeteries. In 2021 approximately 11,200 flags were distributed to honor local deceased veterans. Note – This is done with one of the smallest departments in the county.
Often, veterans and their family members are not aware of the many benefits available to them. When talking with the staff of the County Veterans Service office, they always recommend to set up an appointment to discuss what benefits may be available. Everyone’s situation is different so the best thing is a “Face to Face” to determine what best each case.
The Veterans Service Office can also assist with filing claims for service-connected disabilities, burial benefits, survivor benefits and other services available from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). They can assist with benefits offered through the Wisconsin Department of Veterans’ Affairs (WDVA), such as the Wisconsin Property Tax Credit that is open to 100% disabled veterans or their surviving spouse in some cases. The WIGI Bill is another great benefit offered from the WDVA that many do not realize is there.
The Sheboygan County Veterans Service Commission assists veteran who are dealing with emergency situations, such as when a veteran falls behind on rent of utility payments. The Commission works with the veterans to find solutions to these problems by partnering with other agencies to help pay the rent owed or the utility bill. The Commission also helps veterans by funding the Veterans Ride Program. The Commission has also partnered with the Aging and Disability Center of Sheboygan County to provide veterans with rides to the medial appointments. These programs are available partially through donations and volunteer drivers. Assistant County Veterans Service Officer Craig Stewart said “It is important to make sure under served community members are able to obtain medial and mental health care. This can be more challenging when using V.A Health Care systems. They may have to travel to Cleveland, Green Bay, Madison, or Appleton to receive V.A. care.” The Veterans Ride Program is a way to help make sure these veterans are able to receive the medical and mental health care they may need.
The County Veterans Service Office and Veterans Service Commission are always looking for new ways to assist local veterans and their families.
All three are accredited representatives of the CVSO and the three Commissioners are veterans themselves. They understand the issues that veterans encounter.
The pride they take in their work is evident in the way they help local veterans smoothly navigate through the benefits process. Everyone that walks in the door feels that their concerns are handled in a smooth way. The veterans that have served us deserve no less! My grateful thanks to Assistant Veterans Service Officer Craig Stewart for the time and effort in helping me write this article.
All of us know a veteran or have one in our family. Remember them not only on Veterans Day ……. But every day. Thank them for their services!