Monday, June 27, 2011

VETransfer Seeking Veteran Entrepreneurs in Milwaukee Area

161 W. Wisconsin Ave. Suite 2100
Milwaukee, WI 53203

414.308.3307 direct

Our site is up and Veterans can now sign up for our program.  We are accepting applications on a rolling basis.  The main qualification is that the company submitting for acceptance into the program must be 51% owned by a Veteran.  We are fully functional in our physical location and we are accepting applications for those who would need to reach us virtually.  

I would like to roll this out in an organized fashion with the goal of attracting Vets who are looking to start companies in the greater Milwaukee area first rolling out to the state shortly after.  We can provide additional resources and points of contact similar to the kind you offer as well as other contacts we have around the greater Milwaukee area; however, our focus is on creating companies.

I have also attached our brochures to include in your email.

For specific inquires from your team please have them contact me directly.

Nick Wichert
414-308-3307 mobile
414-502-8387 office

Best regards,

Nick Wichert, MBA
Director, Business Development 
Veteran Entrepreneurial Transfer, Inc.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Governor's Veto Message -- Introduction and Veteran-Related Provisions

To the Honorable Members of the Assembly:

I have approved Assembly Bill 40 as 2011 Wisconsin Act 32 and deposited it in the
Office of the Secretary of State.

This budget reflects a return to the bedrock principles of our state's constitution –
frugality and moderation.  It's a budget that is, for the first time in many years,
balanced – now and in the future – with a structural surplus of over $300 million in
the 2013-15 biennium.  It avoids relying on accounting gimmicks, fund raids and
one-time funds.  With this budget, we have begun to put our state's financial house in
order and make our finances more transparent.  And this budget is enacted before the
start of the new biennium – with the earliest signing date since 1967.


Ensures the solvency of the veterans trust fund over the next biennium by providing $5 million GPR in additional funding to support benefits to veterans.

Strengthens the veterans tuition remission program by expanding it to include the University of Wisconsin-Madison Executive Masters in Business Administration program, distance education, on-line and 100 percent fee funded programs, and by increasing the number of credits or semesters eligible for state tuition remissions.

Chippewa Falls Veterans Home Cost-Benefit Analysis 
Sections 234 and 9101 (2u) 

These sections require the Department of Administration to conduct a cost-benefit 
analysis on the initial contract for the operation and staffing of the Veterans Home at 
Chippewa Falls and to submit the results to the Joint Committee on Finance by 
February 1, 2012, or before the Department of Veterans Affairs enters into a contract for 
the operation of the home.  Further, the Department of Veterans Affairs is exempted 
from the current law requirement to conduct a cost-benefit analysis meeting the same 
criteria prior to entering into the contract. 

I am vetoing section 234 because I object to exempting the Department of Veterans 
Affairs from the requirement to conduct a cost-benefit analysis prior to contracting for the 
operation of the home.  Further, I am partially vetoing section 9101 (2u) requiring the 
Department of Administration to conduct a similar cost-benefit analysis because this 
requirement is unnecessary and duplicative of the Department of Veterans Affairs 

Veterans Trust Fund Information 
Section 9153 (2j) 

This section requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to submit as part of its 2013-15 
biennial budget request to the Department of Administration an estimate of the amount 
of revenues that will be deposited into the veterans trust fund during that biennium and 
that the total recommendation for appropriation from the trust fund is not greater than the 
amount to be deposited into the fund. 

I am partially vetoing this section to remove the requirement that the total 
recommendation for appropriation from the fund is not more than available revenue 
because it is overly limiting on the department.  It is widely understood that the veterans 
trust fund is facing financial uncertainty and to place such restrictions on the department 
does not work toward the goal of finding reliable revenue streams while maintaining 
services for Wisconsin's veteran population. 

Military Funeral Honors Funding – Technical Veto 
Sections 9253 (1j) and 9453 (1j) 

This provision provides $68,900 GPR funding in the second year of the 2009-11 
biennium to reimburse veterans service organizations that provide military funeral 
honors for veterans in this state. 

I am vetoing this provision at the request of the Legislative Reference Bureau because 
funding for this purpose has already been addressed in 2011 Wisconsin Act 27.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Assembly Vets Committee Chair's Update

The Assembly Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs, of which I am chair, also has some bills before it for consideration, including Assembly Bill 66, a bill I introduced that revises Wisconsin’s child custody laws to reflect the unique challenges faced by parents who are service members, and Assembly Bill 121, which was introduced by Rep. Kevin Petersen of Waupaca and expands the definition of deceased veterans’ spouses who are eligible for the veterans property tax credit to include surviving spouses who receive dependency and indemnity compensation from the federal government as the result of their spouses’ service-connected deaths.

As my office continues to work on your behalf, I hope you will always feel free to call my staff and share your comments, concerns, and ideas.  My office’s toll-free number is (888) 534-0053.

--Richard Spanbauer, Chair, Assembly Comitttee on Veterans' and Military Affairs

Friday, June 24, 2011

GOVERNOR: Governor Walker’s Budget for Veterans - Promises Kept

Governor Walker’s Budget for Veterans - Promises Kept

Restoring the Wisconsin GI Bill:

In 2006, a promise was made to the men and women who sign up to serve our nation in the military.  Since that time they have fought, been injured and far too many have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation.  While these heroes were fighting, a benefit promised to them was taken away.  The Wisconsin GI Bill, a landmark piece of legislation was effectively eliminated.

In Governor Walker’s budget, the Wisconsin GI Bill is ‘fully’ restored.  Not only is the Wisconsin GI Bill restored, but it is expanded and clarified to include distance learning and online courses.  

By protecting the Wisconsin GI Bill so veterans can retrain and rebuild their resumes they will be in a better position to find gainful employment and provide for their families that have also sacrificed so much for our nation.  

There is no greater benefit to our veterans struggling to find employment than the restoration of the WI GI Bill.  The restoration of the Wisconsin GI Bill is part of creating 250,000 jobs and keeping a promise to our honored veterans.

Ensuring the Solvency of the Veterans Trust Fund:

The solvency of the Veterans Trust Fund has been an issue for the better part of a decade.  When Governor Walker took office the balance of the trust fund was on a steady decline and projections had it in deficit at the end of the second fiscal year.  

Governor Walker’s budget provides $5 million general fund tax dollars to the Veterans Trust Fund.  This is the largest injection of general fund dollars to the fund since 1972.  The Governor’s budget also provides $416,800 in GPR to repay the raid on the fund by the previous administration and Legislature.

Governor Walker’s budget also gives the WDVA, with Legislative oversight, the flexibility to shift funds in surplus within the department to ensure the VTF remains a strong tool to assist our needy and honored veterans into the future.  The budget also requires WDVA to report a long term solvency plan for the fund to the Governor and Legislature.

Funding for Wisconsin’s Veterans Memorial Cemetery King:

Governor Walker’s budget provides $66,500 general fund revenue for maintenance of the Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery at King.  Previously, money from veteran’s estates and nursing home operations funds were used to maintain the 14 acre cemetery. 

Caring for More Veterans and Creating Jobs at No Cost to State Taxpayers:

The Governor’s budget keeps a promise made by the state to create a veterans home in Northwest Wisconsin.  The Chippewa Falls Veterans Home complements Wisconsin’s two existing Veterans Homes in King and Union Grove, bringing additional resources to our aging veterans in Northwestern Wisconsin.  Through construction of this facility, Wisconsin will be able to not only honor our aging heroes, but offer them a unique community built to address their unique needs.

In addition, the Veterans Home at Chippewa Falls is an economic win for the local community and taxpayers, providing a long term economic boost to the region.  It will help add vitality and opportunity to the Chippewa area’s construction industry.  The home will also create permanent health care jobs.

The Chippewa Veterans Home is a $20 million construction project that is estimated to create 90 full‐time professional jobs in the area without requiring any state general fund tax revenue.  A federal grant along with ongoing revenues from the home will pay for the entire project’s cost.  The home is also required to achieve a four star rating similar to the King and Union Grove homes ensuring our veterans are properly cared for.

By constructing the veteran’s home in Chippewa Falls, the Governor is continuing to fulfill our responsibility to the men and women who served their country and state so well.

Fully Funding the Veterans and Surviving Spouse Tax Credit:

In the Governor’s budget, the Veterans and Surviving Spouse Property Tax Credit is fully funded without reducing eligibility.  The tax credit benefit offered to our most vulnerable veterans and their spouses will increase to $39 million in the next biennium (2011‐13).  That is a $23.8 million increase in property tax credits over the next two years for eligible veterans.

Continuing the Disabled Veteran Business Certification Program:

Governor Walker’s budget continues the new disabled veteran business certification program.  The program will be housed in the new Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

Extending a Property Tax Relief Program to Veterans: 

Governor Walker’s budget allows eligible veterans to now participant in the property tax deferral loan program operated by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.  

Fully Funding Military Funeral Honors:

The Governor fully funds military funeral honors in the “bill to pay the bills”.  Assembly Bill 148 fully restored and funded $68,900 for military funeral honors.  Because military funeral honors were funded in AB 148, the repetitive language in the biennial budget bill was not needed and
therefore removed.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Legislative Director’s Public Comments to WDVA Board

Public Comments made to Board of Veterans Affairs

Friday, June 17, 2011

By Al Labelle, Legislative Director

Disabled American Veterans - Department of Wisconsin

Good Morning, Chairman Naylor, Board members, particularly the new members, thank you all for your service.

I’m Al Labelle, newly elected Legislative Director of the Disabled American Veterans, Department of Wisconsin.

I would like to take this opportunity to briefly discuss 4 topics.

1. Disabled American Veterans, Department of Wisconsin has no official position on the WDVA Secretary appointment by the Governor. We neither support nor oppose any candidate at this time.

2. Last meeting, I spoke briefly about potential action by the House Budget Committee in Washington that would have had a negative impact on VA Health Care.

From direct knowledge, the House Budget Committee staff first mentioned in March, they were considering a review of the 1996 law that opened up VA Health Care to all veterans.

They later mentioned the possibility of eliminating Priority 7 and 8 categories from VA Health Care. This in actuality would have removed 1.3 million veterans from VA Health Care.

On May 25th, the House Budget Committee staff publicly announced they had no plans or pending action to eliminate Priority 7 and 8 from VA Health Care.

These ideas were repulsed thanks to the grassroots efforts of veterans groups, veterans, their families and friends, and concerned citizens. Thanks to all who contacted their Representatives. Without your grassroots efforts, this would not have happened.

3. Thank you to Chairman Naylor and new Board member John Townsend for attending yesterday’s Council on Veterans Programs meeting. It is greatly appreciated by DAV, Department of Wisconsin.

4. The continuing goal of DAV, Department of Wisconsin, starting in July, will be increasing employment and hiring of veterans & disabled veterans at WDVA and all government agencies.

We expect the 2010 employment figures at WDVA to be delivered to DAV, Department of Wisconsin, in an expeditious manner. Thank you to WDVA for their anticipated cooperation.

We look forward to working with the Board, WDVA, the Governor’s Office, and legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle to see that this goal is attained.

Thank you for this opportunity to give this update and to state our goal.

DAV Legislative Bulletin–June 2011


June 2011

Department of Veterans Affairs Fiscal Year 2012 Budget

As I reported in the April Legislative Bulletin, the Administration’s budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2012 included only modest funding increases for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care and benefits programs. For both mandatory funding (compensation, pension, insurance and education benefits) and discretionary funding (primarily health care) the Administration recommended about $132 billion. The House Budget Committee subsequently recommended $128 billion in its budget resolution, about $4 billion less than requested.

The Administration’s FY 2012 budget proposal also included a request for $52.5 billion in advance appropriations for VA health care accounts for FY 2013. The Administration has assumed $3.3 billion in first- and third-party collections from veterans and their private insurers.

On June 14, 2011, after consideration of a series of floor amendments most of which were rejected, the full House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to approve the funding levels as recommended by the Appropriations Committee.

Current status:

Fiscal year 2012 Administration budget request $130.2 billion. House-passed funding level $129.7 billion. In comparison to:

· Fiscal year 2011 enacted level – +$7.9 billion

· Fiscal year 2012 budget request – -$475.7 million

· Fiscal year 2013 advance [medical] budget request $52.5 billion

· Fiscal year 2013 House-passed advance appropriation $52.5 billion

In summary, the Appropriations Committee recommended and now the full House has passed a total of $129.7 billion in new budget authority for all VA programs (mandatory and discretionary) in fiscal year 2012, an increase of $7.9 billion, or 6.4 percent above the fiscal year 2011 enacted level but $475.7 million below the Administration’s budget request. In addition, the House agreed to advance appropriations of $52.5 billion, to be provided for fiscal year 2013 in VA Medical Care accounts, matching the President’s request for the advance appropriations year.

The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration. The Senate has yet to act on the FY 2012 VA budget request, either at the Budget Committee or Appropriations Committee level. While VA’s appropriation has been slightly cut (in information technology, general administration and medical and prosthetic research), we are grateful to the House for strongly supporting all VA programs at this time of fiscal and monetary uncertainty. We will keep you updated on VA’s budget as events warrant.

Government Accountability Office Report on Advance Appropriations

On June 14, 2011, GAO released its report on the VA budget, which was required by Public Law 111-81, the advance appropriations law authored by Congressman Filner. The GAO report confirms several of our concerns about gimmicks in the budget, including:

  • • $1.1 billion carryover from this year (FY 2011);
  • • $2.5 billion in “operational improvements;” and
  • • The so-called “contingency fund.”

The GAO report also uncovered another $2.5 billion that the Office of Management and Budget cut from the VA for FY 2012 and FY 2013 for needed equipment and maintenance.

DAV will request that both House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs and Appropriations Committees will hold hearings to ensure that we have an honest and transparent VA budget.

Pending Legislation

H.R. 2052, the Fort McClellan Health Registry Act, introduced by Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY), directs the VA to establish and maintain a registry of veterans who served at Fort McClellan, Alabama, due to potential exposure to a toxic substance or environmental hazard.

S. 411, the Helping Our Homeless Veterans Act of 2011, introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) would authorize VA to enter into agreements with States and nonprofit organizations to collaborate in case management services for veterans’ supported housing programs.

S.696, introduced by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), would require VA to treat Vet Centers as VA health care facilities for purposes of payments of beneficiary travel reimbursements to veterans visiting Vet Centers.

S.894, the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2011, introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), would authorize a COLA increase, effective December 1, 2011, in the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of disabled veterans.

S.914, introduced by Senator Mark Begich (D-AK), would authorize waiver of the collection of copayments for VA telehealth and telemedicine visits.

S.951, the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, introduced by Senator Murray, an omnibus act on veterans employment would:

  • • Expand the authority of the VA Secretary to make payments to employers that provide on-the-job training to veterans.
  • • Entitle certain service-connected veterans who have exhausted their rights to unemployment benefits to participation in an additional VA rehabilitation program and would require the VA Secretary to follow-up on the employment status of veterans who participate in VA rehabilitation.
  • • Require participation by eligible service members in the Transitional Assistance Program (TAP), and provision of pre-separation counseling to members who anticipate discharge, including assessment of equivalencies between military skills and civilian employment requirements.
  • • Instruct the Secretary of Labor to follow-up on employment status of members who complete their TAP participation.
  • • Authorize up to three specialized grants for veterans’ employment.
  • • Liberalize appointments of veterans to the federal civil service if otherwise qualified, without regard to civil service examination, and would require federal agencies to provide employment assistance to separating members.
  • • Direct the Secretary of Labor to carry out an outreach program to provide employment assistance to certain veterans receiving unemployment compensation.
  • • Authorize a pilot program to assess the feasibility of providing work experience to certain members of the Armed Forces who are on terminal leave.
  • • Require a VA demonstration project on credentialing and licensing of veterans.
  • • Extend several existing authorities and require a series of reports.

S.957, the Veterans’ Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitative Services’ Improvements Act of 2011, introduced by Senator John Boozman (R-AR), would improve rehabilitative services for veterans with traumatic brain injury.

S.1017, the Disabled Veteran Caregiver Housing Assistance Act of 2011, introduced by Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT), would increase assistance for disabled veterans who are temporarily residing in housing owned by a family member.

S.1060, the Honoring All Veterans Act of 2011, introduced by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), would improve education, employment, independent living services, and health care for veterans, improve assistance for homeless veterans, and improve the administration of the VA.

S. 1104, the Veteran Transition Assistance Program Audit Act of 2011, introduced by Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), would require regular audits of, and improvements to, the TAP Program.

S. 1127, introduced by Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), would establish centers of excellence for rural health research, education, and clinical activities and provide statutory recognition to VA’s existing Rural Health Resource Centers.


On May 3, 2011, DAV testified before the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, concerning seven benefits-related bills.

On May 13, 2011, DAV testified before the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health regarding the Federal Recovery Coordinator Program.

On June 8, 2011, DAV testified before the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee on 34 bills under consideration, most of which are summarized above.

On June 13, 2011, DAV testified before the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health regarding a recently released GAO report 11-530—Actions Needed to Prevent Sexual Assaults and Other Safety Incidents.

Sexual Assaults in VA Facilities

The DAV finds very disturbing a GAO report that cites 284 cases of alleged, attempted or confirmed sex assaults on patients and employees at VA medical centers between January 2007 and last July. “It is fundamental that our VA hospitals offer a safe environment as well as topflight medical care,” said DAV National Commander Wallace E. Tyson. “This is very disturbing news, and we urge the VA to put into place the report’s recommendations at all medical centers, clinics and other facilities.”

The GAO report examined sexual assaults at VA medical centers and found that many times the victims’ reports are mishandled or inappropriately acted upon based on decisions by local physicians and administrators.

The DAV strongly recommends the creation of a task force to ensure the VA adopts a culture of safety and promptly develops a uniform policy for the reporting of all sexual assaults.

“Mandatory reporting is absolutely necessary. There must be a strict requirement set immediately that all allegations of sexual assaults be reported to an independent body of oversight,” Commander Tyson said in a press release. “These reports can no longer be allowed to be dealt with solely at the local level.”

“This is not a gender-specific issue – this is an issue for every veteran, family member and caregiver. Every person who enters a VA facility must know the government is doing everything possible to keep them safe. VA needs to be a place of care, not of fear.”


To ensure the successful enactment of the legislation that we support, our DAV and Auxiliary members must become active members of DAV’s grassroots – DAV Commander’s Action Network (CAN) — and all of us must do our part to let our elected officials know about our support for legislation that builds better lives for our nation’s service-disabled veterans, their families and their survivors. Please make a pledge to redouble your efforts to communicate our concerns to your elected officials. This is a key to our success.

See you at the DAV National Convention in New Orleans August 6-9, 2011.


National Legislative Director

Governor to Sign Budget: Veterans Programs, New GRP Funding to Remain Fully Intact


The Governor has announced he will sign the biennial budget this Sunday at a local business in Green Bay.  The budget includes many favorable veterans-related provisions, including nearly $30 million in new GPR.

The Governor's office today explained that the Military Funeral Honors Program was already fully funded through the current biennium via the "Bill to Pay the Bills" passed a week or two ago.

The only budget veto related to veterans will be a technical change to therefore strike the redundant MFHP language from the budget bill. There should be an explanatory note as well.

Details about the veterans’ budget provisions, including a relatively small but important expansion of the Wisconsin G.I. Bill tuition remission for veterans and dependents at UW campuses. will be posted here in the next day or two. 

COVP Bylaws Authoring Committee to Meet June 29th


Next week, the bylaws drafting committee of the Wisconsin Council on Veterans Programs will meet for what is expected to be its final meeting in a year-long drafting process.

Though the COVP has been around for decades, inexplicably, it has never had any comprehensive bylaws.

The bylaws drafting effort was led by the DAV, with several weeks of DAV research and writing going into the initial draft introduced to the COVP last summer.

Since that time, it has gone through several reviews and DAV has provided dozens of hours of volunteer work participating in these meetings and redrafting the bylaws to accommodate the various changes.  The American Legion, MOAA, and the Marine Corps League have also actively participated, along with several other groups’ representatives on the COVP. 

A complete copy of the current, June 1st draft is available here

It is expected that the bylaws drafting committee will make its final recommendations during the June 29th meeting and present the final version for review at the next full COVP meeting in August. 

As a public body, all COVP meetings and committee meetings are open to the public are are posted on the the WDVA website in advance.  The meeting notice for the upcoming meeting is also below. 

--Anthony Hardie, DAV representative on the COVP






Wednesday, June 29, 2011 – 10:00 a.m.

Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs

9th Floor Conference Room

30 W. Mifflin Street, Madison

Members of the Ad Hoc Committee on By Laws and Procedure will meet by teleconference in open session on Wednesday, June 29th at 10:00 a.m. at the above-identified location. 

(Members: Roger Fetterly. MOAA; Mark Grams. Marine Corps League; Anthony Hardie, DAV; Russ Alsteen, Navy Club; Paul Fine, Army Navy Union; Rick Cherone, Military Order of the Purple Heart; and, Chuck Roloff, American Legion.)

Meeting access will be provided via phone for Ad Hoc Committee members unable to travel to Madison.

1.      Call to Order and Roll Call of Ad Hoc Committee Members

2.      Certification of Notice of Meeting

3.      Review of Working Committee June 1 Edition of By Laws and Procedure and Additional Notes and Comments of AHC Members

4.      Recommendation of Final Draft to Council on Veterans Programs

5.      Public Input (limited to not more than 5 minutes per guest)

6.      Adjournment

Friday, June 17, 2011

Governor's Office Seeking Applicants for WDVA Secretary

From: Hurlburt, Waylon - GOV < Waylon.Hurlburt@wisconsin.gov >
Date: Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 4:48 PM
Subject: Applicants for the Next Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs
To: "Hurlburt, Waylon - GOV" < Waylon.Hurlburt@wisconsin.gov >
Cc: "Esser, Eric - GOV" < Eric.Esser@wisconsin.gov >

Hello All,

As I am sure you are aware, Assembly Bill 96 has passed the full Legislature with bipartisan support and should be signed into law by the Governor soon.  Details of the bill signing ceremony will come shortly.

In order to expedite the process of selecting a new Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, I am sending this link to the application prospective applicants will need to fill out.  Along with this application, a resume and letter of interest should be submitted. 

It takes time to perform the thorough background check necessary for the selection of a cabinet level Secretary.  We have a few applicants already.  The Governor will also want your thoughts regarding who the next secretary should be when he meets with at a minimum, six veterans organizations in compliance with the soon to be new law.  I will be in touch regarding those meetings.

Thank you in advance for having prospective nominees complete the application.  Have them send the completed forms to myself and Eric Esser, eric.esser@wisconsin.gov.


Waylon Hurlburt
Policy Advisor
The Office of Governor Scott Walker
State of Wisconsin

Thursday, June 16, 2011

DAV Calls for Mandatory Reporting of all Sexual Assaults in VA Facilities

807 Maine Ave., SW • Washington, D.C. 20024 • Phone (202) 554-3501 • Fax (202) 863-0233

June 9, 2011

DAV Calls for Mandatory Reporting of all Sexual Assaults in VA Facilities

WASHINGTON — The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) finds very disturbing a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which cites 284 cases of alleged, attempted or confirmed sex assaults on patients and employees at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers between January 2007 and last July.

“It is fundamental that our VA hospitals offer a safe environment as well as top-flight medical care,” said DAV National Commander Wallace E. Tyson. “This is very disturbing news, and we urge the VA to put into place the report’s recommendations at all medical centers, clinics and other facilities.”

The GAO report examined sexual assaults at VA medical centers and found that many times the victims’ reports are mishandled or inappropriately acted upon based on decisions by local physicians and administrators.

The DAV strongly recommends the creation of a task force to ensure the VA adopts a culture of safety and promptly develops a uniform policy for the reporting of all sexual assaults.

“We look to the VA and the administration to make safety a priority in our VA medical centers,” Tyson said.

“Mandatory reporting is absolutely necessary. There must be a strict requirement set immediately that all allegations of sexual assaults be reported to an independent body of oversight,” Commander Tyson said.

“These reports can no longer be allowed to be dealt with solely at the local level.”

“This is not a gender-specific issue – this is an issue for every veteran, family member and caregiver.

Every person who enters a VA facility must know the government is doing everything possible to keep them safe. VA needs to be a place of care not of fear.”

The 1.2 million-member Disabled American Veterans, a non-profit organization founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932, represents this nation’s disabled veterans. It is dedicated to a single
purpose: building better lives for our nation’s disabled veterans and their families. For more information, visit the organization’s Web site www.dav.org.


Commander Reaches Out to Key Elected Officials


The following is the test of a letter new DAV State Commander Kevin “K.C.” Johnson sent to Governor Walker this week.

Commander Johnson sent similar letters to key legislators.

--Anthony Hardie, Madison, Wis.


June 12, 2011

Dear Governor Walker,

Yesterday, I was honored to have been elected to serve as the Disabled American Veterans Department of Wisconsin State Commander for 2011-12. As the new DAV state commander, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and to reintroduce DAV to you.

As you may know, DAV is the largest organization of service-disabled wartime veterans in the world. Made up of well over one million men and women disabled in our nation’s defense, DAV is dedicated to a single purpose: building better lives for our entire nation’s disabled veterans and their families.

Fully non-partisan, DAV extends its mission of hope into communities where these veterans and their families live through a network of direct assistance-providing national service offices. As a major national commitment, DAV also provides an extensive transportation program to our veterans get to their often far-flung VA medical appointments. As part of this key national DAV program, we operated 35 volunteer-driven vans that crisscross the state. DAV also maintains state-level department like here in Wisconsin and more than 2,400 local chapters, including 55 here in our state.

Like our other members, I’m a service-disabled wartime veteran. But as I’m sure you would agree, this is really about the disabled veterans we serve.

For my year as Commander, I have assembled and appointed a staff of high quality, knowledgeable, experienced and dedicated service-disabled men and women who, I anticipate, will help make my year as DAV State Commander one filled with shared accomplishments to further benefit Wisconsin’s disabled and other veterans and their families.

To that end, I have directed key members of my staff – most of them volunteers – to work closely with you and your staff, our State Legislature, and our Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs. Those DAV staff members include: State State Legislative Director Al Labelle of Marshfield; State Special Assistant and State Council on Veterans Programs Representative Anthony Hardie of Madison; State Adjutant Ken Kuehnl of Union Grove; and, State Deputy Adjutant Dick Marbes of Green Bay.

DAV is fully prepared to continue to actively assist the continuing influx of our newest disabled veterans returning to our state from active duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the globe. While DAV’s financial and staffing requirements are both large and demanding, we keep up with those demands through countless volunteers and donors who see the need for DAV’s assistance programs. There are many sick and disabled veterans who need to be transported to their medical appointments at the myriad of VA facilities around the state and DAV will always be there for them.

We have seen your immediate efforts on behalf of Wisconsin’s veterans that began shortly after you had been elected as Governor, even before you officially took office. Those ongoing efforts and your first successes on behalf of our service-disabled and other veterans are noted and greatly appreciated.

On behalf of DAV and the more than 53,500 service-disabled Wisconsin veterans whose interests we represent, I look forward to working with you and your staff for the betterment of our disabled, wartime and other Wisconsin veterans. If we or I can ever be of assistance to your or your staff in our shared goals of aiding and assisting our veterans, please do not hesitate to contact any one of us.



Kevin C. “K.C.” Johnson


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CDMRP Has Many Supporters, Including DAV

June 8, 2011

Chairman Bill Young --  Ranking Member Norm Dicks
Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations
H-140, the Capitol --  1016 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515 -- Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Young and Ranking Dicks:

As you prepare for the full committee markup of the fiscal year 2012 Defense Appropriations Act, we write to thank you for including $223 million for cancer research in the bill. We are hopeful that this life-saving cancer research funding as well as the funding for other medical research will remain in the bill after the full committee markup.

Should there be efforts during the full committee markup to strip funding for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) from the bill, the undersigned organizations respectfully request that you oppose such attempts and demonstrate your continued support for the funding.

Funding for the CDMRP is an opportunity to advance the best research to eradicate diseases and support the warfighter for the benefit of the American public. These research programs target diseases that impact directly the welfare of the American military, their families and the public. For example, CDMRP supports medical research on several forms of cancer (breast, blood, colorectal, melanoma, pediatric, brain, lung, ovarian, and prostate) and other diseases (like neurofibromatosis and bone marrow failure) that have lead to breakthroughs on nerve regeneration and traumatic brain injury. The CDMRP also funds research on Gulf War Illness, psychological health, spinal cord injury, and hearing and vision loss (which comprise a significant portion of current battlefield injuries). Other activities target diseases and conditions such as Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Scleroderma, ALS, and Autism.

The programs also represent a unique partnership among the public, Congress, and the military. The Department of Defense’s CDMRP supports high-quality medical research, concentrating its resources on research mechanisms which complement rather than duplicate the research approaches of the major funders of medical research in the United States. Although the diseases included in this program are diverse, the research on these disease types is often synergistic. For example, investigators increasingly look at the molecular profiles of cancer, often finding connections across cancers affecting different body sites. Advances or progress related to one cancer fuels the research on the other cancers in this program, and treatments initially approved for one cancer are routinely found to be effective in others.

The undersigned respectfully request your continued support for fiscal year 2012 funding of all programs within CDMRP.


The ALS Association
American Academy of Dermatology Association
American Association for Cancer Research
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
American College of Gastroenterology
American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
American Gastroenterological Association
American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
The American Legion
Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation
Arkansas Ovarian Cancer Coalition
Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation
Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
Association of American Cancer Institutes
Autism Speaks
Cancer Support Community
Caring Together, Inc.
Celma Mastry Foundation for Ovarian Cancer Research Inc.
Charlene Miers Foundation for Cancer Research
Children’s Cause for Cancer Advocacy
Children's Tumor Foundation
Colon Cancer Alliance
Colon Cancer STARS
Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance
CureSearch for Children's Cancer
Disabled American Veterans
Fight Colorectal Cancer
Friends of Cancer Research
FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered
Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance, Inc.
Get Your Rear In Gear
HERA Women's Cancer Foundation
Hope for Heather
ICAN - International Cancer Advocacy Network
Intercultural Cancer Council Caucus
International Myeloma Foundation
Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation
Kidney Cancer Association
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Linda Young Ovarian Cancer Support Program, Benedictine Hospital
Lung Cancer Alliance
Lupus Foundation of America, Inc.
Lymphoma Research Foundation
Malecare Cancer Support
Melanoma Research Foundation
Men's Health Network
Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance, Inc.
MIOCA (Michigan Ovarian Cancer Alliance)
Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation
National Alliance of State Prostate Cancer Coalitions (NASPCC)
National Brain Tumor Society
National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship
National Lung Cancer Partnership
National Marrow Donor Program
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
National Patient Advocate Foundation
Neurofibromatosis, Inc. Arizona
Neurofibromatosis, Inc. California
Neurofibromatosis Midwest
Neurofibromatosis, Inc., Network
Neurofibromatosis, Inc., Northeast
NF Inc. Minnesota
NF, Inc. Michigan
Nine Girls Ask
OASIS of Southern California
Olympus America Inc.
Oncology Nursing Society
Ovacome Ovarian Cancer Support and Advocacy of Tampa Bay
Ovar’Coming Together
Ovarian and Breast Cancer Alliance of Washington State
Ovarian Awareness of Kentucky
Ovarian Cancer Advocacy Alliance
Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Arizona
Ovarian Cancer Alliance of California
Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Florida
Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Greater Cincinnati
Ovarian Cancer Alliance of North Florida, Inc.
Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Ohio
Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Oregon and Southwest Washington
Ovarian Cancer Coalition of Greater California
Ovarian Cancer National Alliance
Ovarian Cancer Orange County Alliance
Prevent Cancer Foundation
Preventing Colorectal Cancer.Org
Prostate Cancer Foundation
Prostate Cancer International
Prostate Conditions Education Council
Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation, Inc.
Sarcoma Foundation of America
SHARE: Self-Help for Women with Breast or Ovarian Cancer
Society for Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA)
Society of Gynecologic Oncology
The Teal Tea Foundation
Teal Tulips (formerly R.O.C.C.S.)
Texas Neurofibromatosis Foundation
Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance
United Ostomy Associations of America
Us TOO International
Us TOO - Richmond , Va Group
Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA)
Virginia Prostate Cancer Coalition
Washington State Neurofibromatosis Families
Wisconsin Ovarian Cancer Alliance
Women Against Prostate Cancer
Women’s Cancer Awareness Group
Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization
You'll Never Walk Alone
ZERO — The Project to End Prostate Cancer

CDMRP Survives House Approp’s Committee – but Many Health Research Programs Would be Cut by 20 Percent


The full House Appropriations Committee met today to markup the FY12 Defense Appropriations bill.  

Despite many rumors that the acclaimed Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) would be eliminated, there were no CDMRP-related amendments during today’s markup. 

DAV members may recall the exceptional presentation on the program by senior CDMRP staff member Dr. J.B. Phillips at last year’s DAV Fall Conference.

It is certainly possible that all the Hill advocacy by dozens of health organizations over the last several weeks – including DAV’s legislative staff -- made the difference in preventing that.

However, under the House plan, there would be many changes to the previously successful CDMRP programs.  The final FY12 Defense Appropriations Bill as recommended by the Full Committee included the following:

1.      Several existing CDMRP programs would not be funded at all: most notably the sort of catch-all Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program; Neurofibromatosis; Pain Management; Global Deployment of the Force medical research; Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine; and SBIR to the core funded RDT&E.

2.      Two programs with the most direct military relevance would see 25% increased funding: Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health (increased from $100m to $125m); Orthopedic (from $24m to $30m).

3.      Three new programs were created: Hemorrhage Control; Restorative Transplantation; and, a Joint Warfighter Medical Research Program -- totaling $75m.

4.      The other 17 programs funded in FY11 would be continued but cut by 20%. Despite the most direct military relevance, these included Spinal Cord Injury, Vision, Gulf War Illness, and Alcohol and Substance Abuse Disorders.

FY11 appropriations first, followed by the FY 12 Full Appropriations Committee Bill Recommended Amounts:

1.      ALS $8,000 -- $6,400
2.      Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine $4,800 -- -0-
3.      Autism Research $6,400 -- $5,100
4.      Bone Marrow Failure Disease Research Program $4,000 -- $3,200
5.      Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy $4,000 -- $3,200
6.      Global HIV/AIDS Prevention $10,000 -- $8,000
7.      Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health $100,000 -- $125,000
8.      Global Deployment of the Force medical research funding -Department of Defense requested transfer to maintain full funding for the program $125,000 -- -0-
9.      Gulf War Illness Peer-Reviewed Research Program $8,000 -- $6,400
10.     Multiple Sclerosis $4,800 -- $3,200
11.     Peer-Reviewed Alzheimer Research $15,000 -- $12,000
12.     Peer-Reviewed Breast Cancer Research Program $150,000 -- $120,000
13.     Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program $16,000 -- $12,800
14.     Peer-Reviewed Lung Cancer Research Program $12,800 -- $10,200
15.     Peer-Reviewed Orthopedic Research Program $24,000 -- $30,000
16.     Peer-Reviewed Ovarian Cancer Research Program $20,000 -- $16,000
17.     Peer Reviewed Vision research in conjunction with the DoD Vision Center of Excellence $4,000 -- $3,200
18.     Peer-Reviewed Prostate Cancer Research Program $80,000 -- $64,000
19.     Peer-Reviewed Spinal Cord Research Program $12,000 -- $9,600
20.     Research in Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders $5,200 -- $4,500
21.     SBIR to the core funded RDT&E $1,200 -- -0-
22.     Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) $6,400 -- $5,100
23.     Pain Management Task Force Research $4,000 -- -0-
24.     Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program $50,000 -- -0-
25.     Neurofibromatosis Research $16,000 -- -0-

New for FY12:

1.      Hemorrhage Control -- $10,000
2.      Joint Warfighter Medical Research Program -- $50,000
3.      Restorative Transplantation Research Program -- $15,000

**UPDATE from Katie Weyforth Vanlandingham of Van Scoyoc Associates:  Neurofibromatosis was funded (located in a different part of the bill than the other programs) and like most of the other CDMRP programs took at 20% cut from FY11. The Peer-reviewed medical research program is usually only funded in the Senate bill (and then ends up in the conference report) because they do not individually fund most of the CDMRP programs in their bill.

Anthony Hardie
Madison, Wis.

Presidential Proclamation: Flag Day and National Flag Week

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

June 10, 2011

Presidential Proclamation--Flag Day and National Flag Week

On June 14, 1777, the Second Constitutional Congress adopted a flag with thirteen stripes and thirteen stars to represent our Nation, one star for each of our founding colonies. The stars were set upon a blue field, in the words of the Congress's resolution, "representing a new constellation" in the night sky. What was then a fledgling democracy has flourished and expanded, as we constantly strive toward a more perfect Union.

Through the successes and struggles we have faced, the American flag has been ever present. It has flown on our ships and military bases around the world as we continue to defend liberty and democracy abroad. It has been raised in yards and on porches across America on days of celebration, and as a sign of our shared heritage. And it is lowered on days of remembrance to honor fallen service members and public servants; or when tragedy strikes and we join together in mourning. Our flag is the mark of one country, one people, uniting under one banner.

When the American flag soars, so too does our Nation and the ideals it stands for. We remain committed to defending the liberties and freedoms it represents, and we give special thanks to the members of the Armed Forces who wear our flag proudly. On Flag Day, and during National Flag Week, we celebrate the powerful beacon of hope that our flag has become for us all, and for people around the world.

To commemorate the adoption of our flag, the Congress, by joint resolution approved August 3, 1949, as amended (63 Stat. 492), designated June 14 of each year as "Flag Day" and requested that the President issue an annual proclamation calling for its observance and for the display of the flag of the United States on all Federal Government buildings. The Congress also requested, by joint resolution approved June 9, 1966, as amended (80 Stat. 194), that the President annually issue a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 occurs as "National Flag Week" and call upon citizens of the United States to display the flag during that week.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim June 14, 2011, as Flag Day and the week beginning June 12, 2011, as National Flag Week. I direct the appropriate officials to display the flag on all Federal Government buildings during that week, and I urge all Americans to observe Flag Day and National Flag Week by displaying the flag. I also call upon the people of the United States to observe with pride and all due ceremony those days from Flag Day through Independence Day, also set aside by the Congress (89 Stat. 211), as a time to honor America, to celebrate our heritage in public gatherings and activities, and to publicly recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this tenth day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.






HUD June 13, 2011


Funding part of Obama Administration plan to end Veteran homelessness

WASHINGTON – U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced today that HUD will provide $5.4 million to public housing authorities in 18 states to supply permanent housing and case management for 676 homeless Veterans in America. This is the fourth and final round of the FY 2010 Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH) funding to support homeless Veterans.

HUD-VASH is a coordinated effort by HUD, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and local housing authorities to provide permanent supportive housing for homeless Veterans. For a local breakdown of the rental vouchers announced today, visit HUD's website.

“Our mission is to end Veterans’ homelessness,” said VA Secretary Shinseki. “This effort is an excellent example of how VA works with HUD and our community partners in that shared mission. The project-based vouchers will provide dedicated permanent housing for Veterans and allow them to live in support of each other, as neighbors.”

“As our young men and women return from Afghanistan and Iraq, they deserve to be treated with dignity and honor. Yet our nation's Veterans are 50 percent more likely than the average American to become homeless,” said HUD Secretary Donovan. “These vouchers continue to get more of our Veterans off the streets and out of homeless shelters into permanent housing.”

The vouchers announced today are part of a set-aside of project-based vouchers HUD announced last September that would be competitively awarded to housing authorities that received HUD-VASH vouchers in 2008, 2009 or 2010. Under HUD’s project-based voucher program, housing authorities can assign voucher assistance to specific housing units. These vouchers will enable homeless Veterans to access affordable housing with an array of supportive services.

This funding to local housing authorities is part of the Obama Administration’s strategy to end Veteran and long-term chronic homelessness by 2015. Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness serves as a roadmap for how the federal government will work with state and local agreements to confront the root causes of homelessness, especially among former Servicemen and women.

The grants announced today are part of a $75 million investment to support the housing needs of homeless Veterans. This is the fourth and final competitive round to allocate the remaining FY2010 HUD-VASH funding. With today’s announcement, HUD will have funded 10,186 housing vouchers for homeless Veterans nationwide for 2010. HUD will announce the 2011 HUD-VASH funding during the summer. VA Medical Centers provide supportive services and case management to eligible homeless Veterans.

Veterans are referred to the public housing authority for these vouchers, based upon a variety of factors, most importantly the need for and ability to benefit from supportive housing. Supportive housing includes both financial help the voucher provides and the comprehensive case management that VAMC staff provides.

Veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. VA offers eligible homeless Veterans clinical and supportive services through its medical centers across the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico.


VA is the federal government’s second-largest cabinet office.  Secretary Shinseki has outlined three key priorities for the department: increase Veteran access to VA services and benefits, eliminate the disability claims backlog, and end Veteran homelessness. VA provides health care to more than 6 million people each year, in 91 million outpatient visits and 960,000 hospitalizations.  VA provides more than $58 billion annually in disability pay and pensions to 4.5 million Americans, $10 billion in educational assistance, $1 billion for home loans and $2.6 billion for life insurance. More information about VA is available at www.va.gov.

HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov.

WDVA: Groundbreaking for the John R. Moses Chippewa Falls Veterans Home June 24th

June 13, 2011 Contact: Kathleen Scholl 608-267-3582

For Immediate Release

Groundbreaking Ceremony for new Skilled Nursing Facility to be held on June 24 at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at Chippewa Falls
Facility to be dedicated in honor of former department Secretary John R. Moses

The following advisory from the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) is to announce and invite the public as well as the local media to attend an important event -- PHOTO OPPORTUNITY.

WHAT: A formal ceremony with federal and state officials will take place on June 24th to break ground for a new Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) at the Wisconsin Veterans Home-Chippewa Falls (WVH-CF).

Initial phases of construction have started on a 72-bed facility on the grounds of the Chippewa Falls Home, located at the Northern Wisconsin Center.
Initial plans for a Wisconsin Veterans Home at Chippewa Falls began with 2003 Wisconsin Act 102, which authorized WDVA to use specified funds for programs and facilities for veterans in northwestern Wisconsin.

The project has been reviewed by the Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs, Wisconsin State Legislature, the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, and the Wisconsin Building Commission.

The Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs, in a building naming motion in April 2011, approved naming the new Skilled Nursing Facility in honor of the late John R. Moses.

WHEN: Friday, June 24, 2011 at 1:00 p.m.

WHERE: 2175 East Park Ave., Chippewa Falls, WI 54729
The ceremony will take place off of the National Guard Armory parking lot that is just past the actual construction site on County Road J/ East Park Ave. Please follow the signs from Seymour Cray Sr. Blvd.


  • Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Acting Secretary Donna Williams
  • Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs Chair Dan Naylor
  • Judy Johnson-Mekota, Deputy Network Director, U.S. Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 23
  • Chippewa Falls Mayor Greg Hoffman
  • Representatives of U.S. Senator Herb Kohl and U.S. Congressman Sean Duffy
  • State Representatives Tom Larson and Kathy Bernier.

Veterans, their family members, legislators and other interested parties have been invited to attend the ceremony. Also on hand will be members of the Wisconsin Board of Veterans Affairs and family members of the late former Secretary John R. Moses.


Location: 2175 East Park Ave., Chippewa Falls, WI 54729

Directions: From I-94 take US 53 N toward Eau Claire/Superior. After 10 miles merge onto WI-29 E via Exit 95A toward Green Bay. After 3.2 miles take the WI -29 BR/WI-178 exit, Exit 79 toward Chippewa Falls. Turn right onto WI-178 N/Seymour Cray Sr. Blvd. After 1.4 miles turn Right at stoplight on CR-J/E Park Ave. The site is on the right and parking is available in the National Guard Armory parking lot (just before 1st Street).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

New Study Says Sleep Key to Cognitive Performance

(91outcomes.com) – A new study published in the current edition of the Journal of Sleep Research shows that proper sleep has a profound impact on the ability to learn.

Disturbed or dysfunctional sleep is a commonly reported symptom of Gulf War Illness (GWI), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) –- relatively common disorders among veterans of the last two decades of military service.

According to a USA Today article by Randy Dotinga about the study:

The research doesn't prove that sleep will help you learn more effectively. But it does provide more evidence that your brain doesn't just rest and dream when you're asleep, said study co-author Rebecca Spencer, an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Dotinga’s article about the study suggests that important integration of learning takes place during sleep:

Sleep researcher Michael Anch, an associate professor at Saint Louis University, said the study "emphasizes the growing awareness of the importance of sleep for optimal cognitive functioning."

"This study is consistent with other studies suggesting that sleep allows you to integrate learned information from various brain regions, which is not allowable by instant decisions," Anch said. "This gives credence to the notion that if you have a decision to make, sleep on it!"


---Anthony Hardie, Madison, Wis.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Message from the Chair: Assembly Vets Committee Chair Rep. Dick Spanbauer on Why He Supported AB 96



The Assembly and the Senate met on Wednesday of this week to vote on several important pieces of legislation, including a few bills that were held over from our May session. Perhaps the most significant from my perspective as chairman of the Assembly Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs is Assembly Bill 96, which overhauls the leadership structure at the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs. AB 96 was scheduled for a floor vote on May 17, but an objection to the bill’s third reading delayed the final vote until this week.

AB 96 expands the Board of Veterans Affairs to nine members, including at least one from each of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts; members’ terms are reduced from six years to four years. AB 96 also gives the Governor the authority to appoint the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, who must be a veteran. Under current law, the Board appoints the Secretary, which means that the Secretary is appointed by appointees and is not directly accountable to any elected official.        

I supported AB 96 throughout the process because I believe that not only is it in veterans’ interests for the Secretary to have good working relationship with the Governor, but also for the Governor to have the power to remove a Secretary who does not perform his or her duties effectively and give veterans the service they deserve. The Governor, regardless of party, is commander in chief of Wisconsin’s National Guard, and I see his position as similar to that of the President, who has the authority to appoint the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. That is the primary reason by why I support allowing the Governor to appoint the WDVA Secretary despite supporting legislation last session that would have allowed the Natural Resources Board to appoint the DNR Secretary.          

The Assembly passed AB 96 on a 59-37 vote, and the Senate concurred on a 21-12 vote. It will now go to Governor Walker for his signature.



The Spanbauer E-Update is the e-newsletter designed to keep my constituents and friends up-to-date with the latest State Capitol news. I hope that you will find these updates informative, and also it will give readers another way to communicate to me their concerns. 

I hope you will continue to share your opinions with my staff and me, regardless of which side of an issue you’re on. My office’s toll-free number is (888) 534-0053.

Please feel free to forward the newsletter to friends and family who you think would like to know what is happening at the State Capitol. To sign up, send an email to Rep.Spanbauer@legis.wi.gov and request Spanbauer E-Update.

Gulf War Health Research Meetings to be Held in Wash., DC June 27-28

(91outcomes.com) – The next meeting of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses (RAC-GWVI) will be held in Washington, DC on June 27-28, 2011 at the VA central office at 811 Vermont Ave., NW. 

Among the presenters are Dr. Nancy Klimas, one of the world’s leading researchers on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME) and Dr. Lea Steele, past Scientific Director of the RAC-GWVI and the principal author of the groundbreaking 2008 RAC Report demonstrating that GWI is real.  Both Klimas and Steele are among the world’s leading researchers on GWI.

Also presenting is Dr. Beatrice Golomb, a renowned researcher and clinician and the first Scientific Director of the RAC-GWVI, who will be presenting the results of the first positive treatment trial for Gulf War Illness.  The study, funded by the acclaimed Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), finds that Coenzyme Q10 is effective at the mitochondrial level in helping to relieve some GWI symptoms.

Other distinguished presenters include:  Dr. Polly Matzinger of the National Institutes of Health, NIAID; Dr. Gordon Broderick of the University of Alberta, who works closely with Dr. Klimas and Dr. Steele; and, Dr. Scott Panter of the San Francisco VA Medical Center.

VA officials from the Office of Research and Development will also be presenting, including Dr. Timothy O’Leary, Dr. William Goldberg, and
Dr. Joseph Salvatore

A committee discussion on the new comprehensive plan for GWI research, which has been developed following a conference with the VA Gulf War Steering Committee, will take up most of the second day of the RAC-GWVI’s meetings.

The tentative RAC-GWVI agenda is as follows.  All meetings are open to the public and public input is both welcome and encouraged during the scheduled public input sessions on both days of the meetings.

The final agenda will be posted at:  http://www.va.gov/RAC-GWVI/Meetings.asp 


Monday, June 27, 2011

Sonny Montgomery Conference Room, 2nd Floor, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue, Washington, DC

8:00 – 8:30 Informal gathering, coffee

8:30 – 8:35 Welcome, introductory remarks, Mr. Jim Binns, Chairman, RAC-GWVI

8:35 – 9:30 Altered immune functions in Gulf War illness and potential therapies, Dr. Nancy Klimas, Miami VA Medical Center

9:30 -10:30 From Cytokines to Cells to Gene Expression: An Integrative Approach to the Study of Gulf War illness, Dr. Gordon Broderick, University of Alberta

10:30 – 10:45 Break

10:45 – 11:45 The Danger Model of innate immune system activation, Dr. Polly Matzinger, National Institutes of Health, NIAID

11:45 – 12:30 Intranasal administration of toxicants and therapeutics, Dr. Scott Panter, San Francisco VA Medical Center

12:30 - 1:30 Lunch

1:30 – 2:15 Complex factors in the etiology of Gulf War Illness, Dr. Lea Steele, RAC-GWVI

2:15 – 3:00 Co-Enzyme Q10 treatment trial for Gulf War illness, Dr. Beatrice Golomb,  RAC-GWVI

3:00 – 3:45 Gulf War Pre-911 Report overview, Mr. Joseph Salvatore, VA Office of Policy and Planning

3:45 – 4:00 Break

4:00 - 4:30 Federal Advisory Committee Ethics Training, Mr. Jonathan Gurland, VA

4:30 – 5:00 Update of VA Gulf War research funding, Dr. William Goldberg, VA Office of Research and development

5:00 – 5:30 Public comment

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lafayette Building, 811 Vermont Ave., NW, Room 1143, Washington, DC

8:00 – 8:30 Informal gathering, coffee

8:30 - 9:30 Update of VA Gulf War Cooperative  Studies, Dr. Timothy O’Leary, VA Office of Research and development

9:30 – 10:15 Committee Discussion: VA Gulf War Comprehensive Research Strategy, led by Mr. Jim Binns, Chairman, Dr. Roberta White, Scientific Director, RAC-GWVI

10:15 – 10:30 Break

10:30 – 12:00 Committee Discussion (continued): VA Gulf War Comprehensive Research Strategy

12:00 – 12:30 Public comment

12:30 Adjourn


--Anthony Hardie, Madison, Wis.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

WDVA Legislative Update - June 8, 2011

June 8, 2011

The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) provides the Veterans Legislation Monthly Update to notify veterans advocates on relevant legislative developments relating to Wisconsin veterans.


  • Budget Status – The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) completed executive action on the Governor’s 2011-13 State Budget on Saturday, June 4.  Now that JFC has finished its work, the budget has been forwarded to the full Assembly and Senate for their consideration.  From there, the budget will be sent to the Governor, where vetoes or partial vetoes may be introduced.  Pending a delay, the budget is set to take effect on July 1.

  • JFC made several important changes relating to veterans programs, including:

    • Restoration of Wisconsin GI Bill – JFC approved motion #489, which adopts the Governor’s recommendation to fully restore access to the Wisconsin GI Bill for Post-9/11 veterans.  Furthermore, the motion implements several additional clarifications to enhance access to the Wisconsin GI Bill, including a provision to ensure that the Board of Regents remits the full amount of tuition and fees charged for any degree credit course, including online and distance learning courses (see items #19 and #20 in the motion). 

    • Wisconsin GI Bill at UW-Madison – JFC approved motion #489, which deletes the Governor’s recommendation to create a separate University of Wisconsin-Madison authority (see item #1 in the motion).  Accordingly, this motion removes the provision that would have eliminated the Wisconsin GI Bill at UW-Madison as of July 1, 2013, or under a resolution adopted by the Board of Trustees.

    • Increased Budget for Veterans Property Tax Credit – The Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) reestimated the costs to support the Veterans Property Tax Credit for the 2011-2013 biennium.  They anticipate that the state will need to budget $9.7 million more than delineated in the Governor’s budget recommendations.  LFB explains that the higher costs are due to increased awareness of the program as well as projected increases in property taxes.  Accordingly, JFC increased expenditure authority for the program by an additional $9.7 million, expanding the total program budget to $39 million over the biennium.  For more info, see LFB’s Budget Paper #313

    • $5 Million GPR Provided to Trust Fund – JFC unanimously approved a motion to allocate $5 million in general purpose revenue to the Veterans Trust Fund.  Recent budget projections from WDVA and LFB indicated that the Veterans Trust Fund would experience a $3.7 million shortfall before the end of the 2011-13 biennium without legislative authorization.  Provided the provision passes in the final version of the budget, this would be the first infusion of GPR dollars into the Trust Fund since 1988.  The motion also requires that WDVA provide recommendations to the Legislature on adopting a viable long-term funding source for the Veterans Trust Fund by June 30, 2012.  For more info, see “Finance Committee Provides Cash Infusion to Veterans Trust Fund.” 

    • Exemption from the Nursing Home Bed Assessment (Bed Tax) – JFC unanimously voted to continue the exemption from payment of the bed assessment for the Wisconsin Veterans Homes.  If the exemption were to be discontinued, private pay rates for members of the Homes would increase by $2,200 annually.

    • Cost-Benefit Analysis Requirement Restored for Chippewa Falls – JFC unanimously adopted a motion to require the Department of Administration (DOA) to conduct a cost-benefit analysis for the purpose of identifying the most appropriate business model for the future operation of the Chippewa Falls Veterans Home.  The motion requires DOA to submit the results by February 1, 2012, or before WDVA enters into a contract, whichever occurs first.  The motion also requires that if the Department contracts out, the contract contain a performance guarantee that states that the Home shall maintain an overall star rating at least equal to four stars. 

JFC did not take action to provide at least one position authority required by federal law as a condition precedent to receiving federal funds.

    • Funding for Military Funeral Honors Stipends – JFC unanimously voted to provide $68,900 GPR to ensure the availability of stipends for veterans service organizations for the remainder of the fiscal year.


  • Legislature Passes Assembly Bill 96 and Senate Bill 97 (Appointment of WDVA Secretary; WDVA Board Composition and Powers) – On June 8, both the Assembly and the Senate passed AB 96 / SB 97, which gives the Governor the authority to appoint the WDVA Secretary and alters the composition and powers of the WDVA Board.  The Assembly passed AB 96 on a vote of 59 to 37 and the Senate passed SB 97 on a vote of 21 to 12.  The bill will now be sent to the Governor for his signature.

On May 19, Senator Joe Leibham officially introduced Senate Bill 97, which is identical to the amended version of AB 96 under Assembly Substitute Amendment 1.  On May 23, SB 97 received a public hearing before the Senate Committee on Economic Development and Veterans & Military Affairs.  On May 31, the Senate Committee held an executive session and passed the bill on a vote of 5 to 2.  For more information on the public hearing and executive session, see the Record of Committee Proceedings for SB 97.

Under this bill, the Governor would appoint the WDVA Secretary, not the WDVA Board.  Before appointing the Secretary, the Governor must consult with the presiding officers of at least six Wisconsin veterans organizations.  Also, the proposal transfers the direction and supervision of the Department from the Board to the Secretary.  Relating to the composition of the Board, this proposal expands the Board to nine members, one from each of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts and one serving at large.  Finally, the proposal stipulates that all Board members must have served on active duty, but need not have served in any particular war or conflict.

  • Governor Appoints and Senate Confirms New Board Members – On June 8, the State Senate approved the Governor’s appointment of Ben Collins, Al Richards, John Gaedke, and John Townsend to the WDVA Board.  The Senate Committee on Economic Development and Veterans & Military Affairs approved the four nominees in an executive session on June 7:  see the record of committee proceedings on Ben CollinsAl RichardsJohn Gaedke, and John Townsend.


  • Senate Veterans Committee Chair Introduces “Hiring Heroes Act of 2011” (S. 951) – The Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ AffairsSenator Patty Murray, introduced the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011 (S. 951) on May 11.  The bill would implement a variety of practices to increase employment opportunities for veteransincluding:

1.      Requiring preseparation job counseling to members whose discharge or release is anticipated;
2.      Instructing the VA Secretary and the Secretary of Labor to follow-up on the employment status of certain veterans;
3.      The provision of additional VA rehabilitation programs for certain veterans with service-connected disabilities; and
4.      The provision of VA grants to nonprofit organizations under a collaborative veterans' training, mentoring, and placement program for eligible veterans seeking employment.

For more details, see the Congressional Research Service summary of S. 951.  An estimate of the fiscal impact of the legislation has not yet been generated by the Congressional Budget Office.  The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, and similar legislation has been introduced in the House (HR 1941).

  • Federal VA Response on the Interaction of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Wisconsin GI Bill – As reported previously, a section of the Post-9/11 GI Bill Improvements Act of 2010 (S. 3447, now Public Law 111-377) could create a direct conflict between the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Wisconsin GI Bill as to which program is the payer of last resort. 

After sending a letter to the federal VA and garnering unanimous support from the Wisconsin Congressional Delegation in ajoint letter, on April 26, WDVA received a response from the VA General Counsel stating that the VA does not intend to compel use of the Wisconsin GI Bill prior to use of the Post-9/11 GI Bill (i.e. the Wisconsin GI Bill will maintain its place as the payer of last resort).  While the response does not state what the intended rules look like and how the VA will interpret them, this is a positive statement of intent, and the Department is encouraged that this reiteration of the VA’s intentions sets a standard and implicates a future policy that will be favorable for Wisconsin veterans.  Accordingly, the Department is thankful to the VA and the Wisconsin Congressional Delegation for their special attention to this matter, and WDVA looks forward to continuing its work with its federal partners to ensure that the final language treats Wisconsin veterans fairly.

  • Track Federal Veterans Legislation – You can visit WDVA’s Federal Veterans Legislation – Key Bills webpage to track developments and gather more information on federal legislation specific to Wisconsin veterans. 

For additional updates and information on the veterans budget and veterans legislation, visit www.WisVets.com/Legislation.  Otherwise please don’t hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions.

Thanks for your commitment to better serve our veterans,

Max Dulberger
Executive Assistant
Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs