VA seeks eligible Warhawks for grant funding

Cadets including UW-Whitewater junior Marli Kram, front, attend the commissioning ceremony for seniors Ethan Christensen and Adam Earle.  The Warhawk Company, Army Reserve Officers Training Corps at UW-Whitewater held its spring commissioning ceremony for two seniors prior to commencement on Saturday, May 13, 2017.  (UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner) DIGITAL MANIPULATION OF PHOTOGRAPHS OTHER THAN NORMAL MINIMAL CROPPING AND TONING IS PROHIBITED., CREDIT PHOTOS: UW-WHITEWATER PHOTO/CRAIG SCHREINER

UW-WHITEWATER PHOTO/CRAIG SCHREINER

Cadets including UW-Whitewater junior Marli Kram, front, attend the commissioning ceremony for seniors Ethan Christensen and Adam Earle. The Warhawk Company, Army Reserve Officers Training Corps at UW-Whitewater held its spring commissioning ceremony for two seniors prior to commencement on Saturday, May 13, 2017. (UW-Whitewater photo/Craig Schreiner) DIGITAL MANIPULATION OF PHOTOGRAPHS OTHER THAN NORMAL MINIMAL CROPPING AND TONING IS PROHIBITED., CREDIT PHOTOS: UW-WHITEWATER PHOTO/CRAIG SCHREINER

The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs allocates grant money to the University of Wisconsin System and non-profit organizations during the month of September.

Grants offer opportunities for all veterans, spouses and dependents through a tuition fee remission called “the Wisconsin G.I. Bill.” The WDVA also offers an annual grant for non-profit organizations like “Disabled American Veterans, which rely on donations to purchase hospital transportation vans each year. The grant process starts with notifying the public through administrators like Donald Placidi Jr. and ends with a consultation from the Walworth County Veteran Service Officer prior to enrollment.

“The Wisconsin G.I. Bill is a state-funded program to allow veterans and their dependents tuition coverage. The Wisconsin G.I. Bill is the most generous grant you can get. My wife and I both use it,” said Placidi.

Donald Placidi Jr., division administrator of the Division of Veteran Benefits, oversees the administration of grants, state veteran programs and award nominations. Placidi distributes program information through County Veteran Service Officer training across the state. Placidi’s primary job is to oversee the operation of support services.

“We have a support service through a place called the Veteran Benefit Resource Center. I am the coordinator. My job is to connect our services across the state,” said Placidi.

Placidi is a benefactor of the Wisconsin G.I. Bill. Placidi is also a veteran returning to school, along with his family, who is actively pursuing his master’s degree. Veterans, spouses and dependents receive 128 credits-worth of state funded tuition.

“I believe it was a year ago when I was reading the Military Times. They were going through some of the best benefits across the country. The Wisconsin G.I. Bill was mentioned as one of the best benefits regarding student tuition,” said Placidi.

WDVA provides updates and training through its State Service Officers. The instruction is for County Veteran Service Officers who receive a 427-page Veteran Service Officer Training Manual. Each County Veteran Service Officer works with WDVA to track all who utilize the Wisconsin G.I. Bill in school, helps families file claims and explain information applying for grants.

“The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs offers accredited training of at least 40 hours of both federal and state benefits,” Walworth County Veteran Service Officer Nathan Bond said.

Bond began in 2014 and became a County Veteran Service Officer in 2016. WDVA helped him develop a detailed understanding of the proper filing of WDVA documents.

“County Veteran Service Officers all go through an accredited process like the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars,” said Bond.

Bond also assists dependents and families who are eligible for the Wisconsin G.I. Bill by determining eligibility through records on file. Bond’s training and continued interaction with WDVA officials like Placidi seek to improve claim filing solvency. Walworth County Service Officers are one of the first points of contact for veterans, their spouses and dependents when applying for state benefits in the Whitewater community.

“If your spouse or parents served, received an honorable discharge, you should see a County Veteran Service Officer before you apply for school. If a person separates from service, I can help them,” Bond said.

Not only does WDVA work with the county, the agency assists the Disabled American Veterans organization with funding and benefits as well. An annual grant for $200,000 provides enough to purchase seven vans to shuttle disabled persons to the hospital for care. The not-for-profit agency applies for seven grants per year to purchase vehicles from the Ford Motor Company.

“We Average 900,000-miles-per-year with our transportation,” said Wisconsin Disabled American Veteran Commander Matt Kempainen.

Kempainen’s organization works to increase disabled veteran mobility. Disabled American Veterans is 100 percent volunteer-operated, who donate up to 65,000 hours annually. WDVA seeks the help of organizations like these to spread the word about state grants who share how programs benefit their members.

“We are here to empower veterans to lead high quality lives. Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs does the best they can to make sure our voices are heard,” Kempainen said.

The Wisconsin G.I. Bill is an on-going benefit available every semester. The WDVA Non-profit Grant deadline ends Wednesday, September 30, at 4:30 p.m. For more information, please stop by Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs’ website at www.dva.wi.gov.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email