About Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs
The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) was created in 1945 to consolidate separate veterans programs under one agency. Today, WDVA provides grants and a variety of services to eligible Wisconsin veterans and their families.
2011 Wisconsin Act 36 changed the composition of the Board of Veterans Affairs, the appointment of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and supervision of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Governor nominates the Secretary of Veterans Affairs after consulting with the presiding officers of at least six Wisconsin veterans organizations. The Governor’s nomination of the Secretary must be confirmed by the Senate. The Department of Veterans Affairs receives advice from a nine-member, part-time, citizen advisory Board of Veterans Affairs.
Wisconsin has earned a distinguished reputation nationally for instituting programs and services that meet the needs of its residents who served in the U.S. armed forces and their families.
The state’s proud tradition of providing assistance to veterans and their families began soon after the Civil War. Most of this early assistance was intended to alleviate the suffering of destitute veterans and their families.
In 1887, the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a prominent organization representing Civil War veterans, founded the Grand Army Home at King. This facility near Waupaca was eventually turned over to the State of Wisconsin and became the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King. In August 2001, the Wisconsin Veterans Home at Union Grove opened.
In 1901, the state honored Civil War veterans by establishing a GAR headquarters and museum in the State Capitol. In 1989, the Legislature authorized the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs to build a new museum, honoring veterans from all wars, across the street from the Capitol. The award-winning Wisconsin Veterans Museum opened in 1993.
In 1919, the state issued its only wartime bonus to Wisconsin veterans of World War I. In 1945, rather than issue a wartime bonus with little lasting value, the Legislature created programs that offered long-term benefits for state veterans and their families.
To administer state veterans programs, the Legislature created the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs in 1945. The department was given the administrative responsibility for the Grand Army Home at King, the GAR Memorial Hall in the Capitol, the state’s economic and education assistance benefits for veterans, and other programs. It also assumed responsibility for segregated funds for veterans that were combined in 1961 to form the Veterans Trust Fund.
Today, the WDVA provides an array of benefits and services to eligible state veterans, and in some instances, veterans’ family members.
To deliver these benefits and services, the WDVA works closely with county veterans service officers (CVSOs). Each county has a veterans service officer who offers outreach, counseling and processing of benefit applications for both state and federal programs.
Wisconsin has three state veterans cemeteries.
The Wisconsin Veterans Home at King offers high-quality skilled nursing care and retirement options for veterans and their spouses. A second veterans home opened in August on the campus of the Southern Wisconsin Center, near Union Grove.
The Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison attracts visitors from around the world and has earned national awards for its portrayal of veterans’ history.