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Veterans’ issues Assembly priority

Rep. Romaine Quinn

Veterans have made tremendous sacrifices for our country, and I strongly believe we need to support them when they return home.

One of the issues I am most proud of was standing against a bad bill. A proposal was circulated to regionalize county veterans service officers, which would decrease access to crucial services for our veterans. I heard from many veterans, and told the Legislature’s leadership that I could not support this bill. Many of my colleagues joined me, and we prevented the bill from going to the floor.

Two bills this session aimed to ensure that veterans’ honor and integrity were upheld. The Stolen Valor Act, written by Rep. David Steffen, R-Green Bay, targets those who falsely claim to have served in the military. Those who make false claims now face felony charges for their actions. It is an important step toward ensuring veterans are appropriately recognized for your service.

Assembly Bill 696 ensured veterans have proper funeral recognition. Too often cemeteries, funeral homes and crematoria find themselves in custody of unclaimed remains. This bill ensures that veterans honorably discharged get the recognition they deserve and receive proper burial honors. The remains of veterans deserve the utmost respect, and this bill gives us the chance to show our gratitude for those who served our country by making sure they receive an honorable burial.

The Assembly also introduced three bills that focus on veterans’ employment opportunities, Assembly Bills 441, 541, and 542. These bills create the Wisconsin Veterans Employment Initiative, a veteran’s employment and entrepreneurship grant, and a grant program for veterans’ tuition and nonprofit causes.

Assembly Bill 707 bill provides a standardized tool for veteran-owned and disabled veteran-owned businesses to market themselves as such in their respective communities and throughout the state, similar to the "Made in Wisconsin" stickers on many products. These businesses will now be more accessible and identifiable to consumers who wish to support veteran-owned businesses.

In fact, veteran unemployment in Wisconsin has fallen by 3.5 percent in 2015 — the fifth largest drop in the nation. We are tied now for 12th lowest in the country in terms of veteran unemployment at 4.1 percent.

There is still work to do in getting all of our veterans’ meaningful, good-paying jobs, but I am very proud of the progress we have made in this area.

Finally, our budget helped ensure veterans returning to higher education are supported. One million dollars was allocated to the Wisconsin Technical College System to develop and expand specialized instruction and support services for veterans enrolled in their programs. It also added a credit for those with military training.

Supporting services for our veterans continues to be one of my priorities while I am in office. If you have any questions or concerns you would like to share with me, please do not hesitate to call my office at 608-266-2519.

Rep. Romaine Quinn, R-Rice Lake, represents the 75th District in the Wisconsin Assembly.