MOUNT PLEASANT — U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis., is looking to add a military veteran to join the staff of his Wisconsin office.
On Friday, Steil announced that his office had received funding from the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer to hire a veteran through the Wounded Warrior Fellowship Program to be the liaison between his office and the veterans community in the 1st Congressional District, which includes Racine County.
Steil made the announcement at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10301, 6501 Washington Ave., with several area veterans in attendance.
“(The fellowship) allows us to bring on an individual who is a veteran who’s either a Purple Heart veteran or a disabled veteran, will come on to our office and be a liaison between our office, the federal government and veterans across southeast Wisconsin,” Steil said.
The program is limited to veterans who meet the following requirements: Honorably discharged; released from active duty within the last five years; terminal pay grades at or below E-5 or O-3; and 20 percent or greater service connected disabilities (waived if you have a Purple Heart). Veterans who are in receipt of a 20-year or Temporary Early Retirement Authorization retirement are not eligible for the program.
“I always need somebody to be eyes and ears on the ground,” Steil said. “So when we’re talking about veterans issues, there’s nobody better than a veteran to understand veterans’ issues, to be able to network into the community and look for ways we can make improvements.”
Particularly in regard to mental health, Steil said that having another veteran to talk to might be helpful in getting other veterans treatment.
“Now we’re really aware of really significant PTSD with some of our younger veterans who are coming back post-9/11,” Steil said. “As we become more aware that mental health is a real illness that needs to be treated medically and professionally, I think that need to have that veteran contact is really critical.”
Post honored to host Steil
Ken Welch served in the U.S. Air force from 1969 to 1976 and is now the commander of Post 10301.
Welch said he was honored that their post was selected for the announcement.
“I think this is a very noteworthy position,” Welch said. “I have not heard of anything like this in the past and I think it will benefit the area veterans a great deal.”
Welch added that he thinks the Department of Veterans Affairs does good work in Wisconsin “but this will only enhance communication with the government and our access to programs.”