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Aurora Health Care

Remembering, recognizing veterans in Wisconsin



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November 10, 2010 | 08:05 AM
Without question, the peace and prosperity we enjoy today is a direct result of veterans' efforts to maintain and preserve our freedom. These brave men and women who have served, fought and died for our nation are the cornerstone of our free society.

As we observe Veterans Day on Nov. 11, we must not forget the sacrifice they have made, in wartime and in peace, in the name of democracy. In Wisconsin, Nov. 5 to 11 is "Veterans Recognition Week," take this opportunity to thank a service member.

Over 894,879 Wisconsinites have served in the Armed Forces since statehood, many have given their lives. As members of the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, these brave individuals continue to serve and protect our country. The contributions and sacrifices of these men and women, who served during the Civil War and both World Wars all the way up to the current conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, have been vital in maintaining the freedoms and way of life enjoyed by the people of the United States.

In the Legislature, we have recognized the sacrifices of Wisconsin veterans by passing legislation that preserves their legacy and provides for the families they left behind. As a result, there are a number of programs in Wisconsin which are aimed at assisting our veterans. Programs include veteran housing assistance, financial and medical assistance, and employment training and educational incentives.

A few more recent changes to Wisconsin veteran benefits, programs and services include: a full property tax credit to 100 percent for disabled veterans and their spouses, the creation of a tax donation line on Wisconsin tax forms allowing tax payers to donate money directly to the Veterans Trust Fund (VTF), the removal of the state's tax on veteran's social security income and the creation of Gold Star license plates available for immediate family members of service members who have died in combat while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

A license plate has also been created to show support for Wisconsin's Veterans. The annual $15 fee for this plate is tax deductible and donated to the VTF. The VTF is used for cemeteries, museums, as well as service programs for veterans. These service programs include: home loans, personal loans, education grants and assistance to needy veterans and military families.

In Wisconsin, income of a veteran's service organization chartered under federal law is exempt from state income and franchise taxes. This exemption covers about 45 veteran's organizations in Wisconsin, such as the American Red Cross, American Legion, American Veterans, Disabled American Veterans, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Information on Wisconsin Veteran benefits and programs, as well as a list of pending legislation, can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) website at www.dva.state.wi.us. You can also request a 2010-2011 Wisconsin Veteran's State Programs and Service booklet from the (DVA) toll-free at (800) WIS-VETS (1-800-947-8387).

State law requires each of Wisconsin's 72 counties provide a County Veterans Service Officer (CVSO) to assist the county's residents with state and federal veteran's benefits. CVSOs are most Wisconsin veterans' first point of contact for benefits and eligibility questions. A complete listing of CVSOs by county is available at: www.dva.state.wi.us and in your local phone book under County Government.

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According to the DVA, there are approximately 56,000 veterans in Kenosha, Waukesha, Jefferson and Walworth Counties, and about 417,650 throughout Wisconsin. Taking part in a Veterans Day observance is one way to recognize local men and women who took an oath to protect our freedoms and way of life. I hope you take time to honor all our brave members of the Armed Forces in your own way on November 11th, and thank them for their service to our country.

Kedzie can be reached in Madison at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI, 53707-7882 or by calling toll-free (800) 578-1457. He may be reached in the district at (262) 742-2025 or online at www.senatorkedzie.com.

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