The anticipated federal funding cuts will force the housing for veterans who are homeless at the two of Wisconsin's three veterans' homes by the end of the year. This is according to a statement released by the officials.
Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Daniel Zimmerman wrote a letter to the veteran advocacy groups earlier last week warning them of the changes. The Wisconsin American Legion also sent the letter to several news outlets on Thursday.
The letter stated that the federal funding has been removed for the Veteran Housing and Recovery Programs at King and Union Grove, which is scheduled to end in the month of September. However the funding for the program at the Chippewa Falls veterans' home will still be continued but on a conditional basis. The letter offered no explanation as to why this is so and why the changes are being implemented.
Zimmerman stated in the letter that the WDVA will still continue to provide funds for the programs up to December if need arises, however, it will not be feasible for them to use state money beyond the month of December. Still, this was also not explained.
Due to this, King and Union Grove has issued a statement that it will no longer be accepting new homeless vets and will immediately start transitioning the 19 vets in the King program and the 28 in the Union Grove program to new housing. This will be done with help from veteran advocacy groups and other nonprofit partners.
Zimmerman said in an effort to offer compensation for the loss of the programs, his department will focus on expanding the Veterans Outreach and Recovery Program from 49 to 65 counties. Under the new program, case managers will be tasked with finding stable housing, food, clothing, furniture and other amenities for the homeless veterans. The Wisconsin American Legion had issued a news release asking the legislators to save the Union Grove and King housing programs. The chapter's commander, Laurel Clewell, described the WDVA's plan to help the soon-to-be-displaced veterans a "half-baked" plan. He commented that the solution to the problem is not making the veterans homeless.
WDVA spokeswoman Carla Vigue wrote an email stating that the agency was shocked to hear about the funding cut and has not received any official explanation yet from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs despite several inquiries being made.