By Senator Herb Kohl
As spring turns to summer, families and friends across our nation come together to celebrate our flag, our fallen heroes and the freedoms they fought to protect.
This Memorial Day, we remembered the service men and women who gave their lives for the peace and safety we feel in our Wisconsin homes. From Arlington National Cemetery to Milwaukee’s Wood National Cemetery, flowers and flags adorn the gravestones of our fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. The commitment and sacrifice of our armed forces has reinforced America’s most fundamental values.
As we honor the courage of the fallen, we also must honor the brave men and women who returned home and remain with us today. Their courage under threat, patience in the face of adversity and modesty in service are what make our troops such exemplary leaders both on the battlefield and when they return home. These veterans do not ask for our praise. Yet on this Memorial Day and every day, we owe them our deepest gratitude and respect.
We never fully can repay them for their service, but I am working hard to secure better health services for our veterans in Wisconsin. Wisconsin recently opened a new Veterans Center in Brown County and another will soon be opening in La Crosse. We are taking significant steps toward addressing the needs of Wisconsin’s former service members.
Still, tens of thousands of our veterans lack access to the critical support veterans centers provide. Some veterans in north central Wisconsin have to drive for hours to receive the support they need and deserve. That’s a fundamental disservice to the men and women who have sacrificed for this country and I have contacted the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs about the need for a new veterans center in northern Wisconsin and additional counselors at the Milwaukee Veterans Center.
I also am working to develop affordable educational opportunities for veterans. I have requested funding to establish a Veterans Center at Western Technical College in La Crosse to provide academic, career and social services to veterans and their families. Additionally, I have requested funding to develop a program at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point to provide financial, career and social resources to disabled veterans returning from combat.
This Memorial Day, we remember the steep price of our freedom as we commemorate the lives and contributions of those who have passed and those who remain in harm’s way. Let us rededicate ourselves, this May 31, to honoring our nation’s veterans.
Herb Kohl is a Democratic senator from Wisconsin.