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Hilgenberg chairs Vets Committee
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MADISON - Rep. Steve Hilgenberg, D-Dodgeville, said he realizes the importance of the work the Assembly's Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs is doing.

"The decisions we made in this committee could affect veterans and their families many years down the road," Hilgenberg said. The second-term Assemblyman chaired the committee's first meeting of this legislative session Thursday in the State Capitol. Hilgenberg and other members heard testimony from the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) and numerous veterans organizations on a wide range of issues including the state budget, WDVA funding, and the need to maintain benefits and services for Wisconsin veterans.

Acting Secretary Ken Black and Executive Assistant Anthony Hardie of WDVA briefed the committee on Gov. Jim Doyle's budget related to veterans and the financial viability of the Wisconsin Veterans Trust Fund, which finances most of the state's benefits, programs and services for veterans.

The Trust Fund is facing serious solvency issues. The committee discussed ways to reduce expenditures, generate revenue and make operations more efficient.

Hilgenberg said the WDVA and veterans advocates are working very hard to make ends meet and maintain current programs.

"We have to make sure they have the resources they need to continue the great work they do," he said.

"In these tough times, it's extremely important that we work with WDVA and relevant organizations to ensure that our veterans are receiving the services they need and deserve," he added.