Veteran Benefits and Resources in Wisconsin
More than 406,000 veterans call the state of Wisconsin home, and through their honorable service to the nation, they are now eligible for numerous state and federal benefits that make life healthier and more affordable for both them and their dependents.
If you are just starting to access your benefits or need assistance submitting or following up on a claim, your local County Veteran Service Officer (CVSO) is a great, free resource for you. The CVSO is a county employee who manages and coordinates the delivery of veterans’ benefits, both federal and state, to eligible recipients. By statute, a CVSO must be a wartime veteran. Among the duties of a CVSO are to counsel veterans about their benefits, assist veterans in applying for and using those programs, and develop outreach mechanisms to make local veterans aware of their benefits options. Additionally, the CVSO program promotes legislation and policy at both the state and federal levels that is supportive of veterans’ rights and issues. Additionally, there are 11 Tribal Veteran Service Officers (TVSOs) in place to assist veterans living within the tribal nations.
Accessing quality health care is always a top priority for veterans and their families, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) maintains three large medical centers within the state, in Madison, Milwaukee, and Tomah. These facilities offer a wide range of primary and secondary care, along with surgical procedures and specialties, and unique programs designed to assist caregivers, returning veterans, female veterans, and veterans facing homelessness. Veterans can check their eligibility, make and reschedule appointments, and learn more about the billing process through the website for each center. Additionally, veterans and their dependents can access care closer to home through 12 outpatient clinics and seven community-based outpatient clinics located throughout the state. These locations work closely with the larger medical centers when referrals are needed.
Wisconsin veterans needing transportation assistance getting to their VA medical appointments may use the van program established by the Wisconsin Department of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV). These vans normally stop at predetermined locations and then transport to the various medical centers. These rides are free of charge and available to all veterans based on financial need; you do not have to be disabled or belong to the DAV to ride. Additionally, for veterans who live in locations not served by the DAV, most counties provide some type of assistance, so be sure to contact your CVSO/TVSO for information.
For veterans looking to enjoy the outdoor resources and recreational opportunities of the state, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers numerous special discounts and programs to veterans, including Purple Heart recipients, returning veterans, and disabled vets or former POWs. Wisconsin veterans may also qualify for a one-time fee waiver for an occupational or professional license. Additionally, disabled veterans with 70% or greater disability rating may receive waivers of vehicle admission and trail pass fees to Wisconsin state parks, also administered through the DNR. Be sure to check the DNR website or call 1-888-936-7463 for the eligibility requirements, needed documentation, and procedure for applying for these discounts.
Senior Wisconsin veterans needing longterm housing and care options may benefit from one of the three state-run veterans homes, located in Chippewa Falls, King, and Union Grove. These homes serve more than 1,000 veterans, widows and spouses, and Gold Star parents, and maintain high safety records and quality of care rankings. The facilities offer a spectrum of care for its residents, including assisted living, rehabilitative care, specialized nursing, and memory care. Multidisciplinary teams of physicians, nurses, therapists, and social workers develop a customized, goal-oriented treatment plan to address each member's specific needs, and the homes include gardens, libraries, chapels, daily activities, and special programs. To be eligible for admission, a veteran must have entered service from the state of Wisconsin, or must have resided in the state of Wisconsin for 12 consecutive months since his or her discharge from military service.
A veteran’s honorable service to his or her country earns full honors at the time of death at no cost to his or her family, including burial, perpetual care, a government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate. Some veterans may also be eligible for Burial Allowances. Additionally, Wisconsin is one of nine states that have created a Military Funeral Honors Program with full-time employees to conduct and assist with providing honors. Three state veteran cemeteries are located in Union Grove, King and Spooner Wisconsin, with the oldest of the three in operation since 1888. There are also six national veteran cemeteries in the state, although they are all closed to new interments. These locations offer veterans and citizens an opportunity to reflect, pay their respects, and participate in events honoring the nation’s fallen heroes.
Wisconsin Veterans Benefit for Assisted Living
The Aid and Attendance pension benefit is available to Wisconsin senior veterans and their spouses to help pay for senior care like assisted living, home care, or nursing home care. Here is more information on how the Aid and Attendance benefit helps Wisconsin veterans.
Written by Megan Hammons