by Benjamin Yount
There’s finger pointing and some unanswered questions about why Wisconsin’s National Guard troops are leaving the Veterans Home at Union Grove.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, sent Gov. Tony Evers a letter Tuesday asking why the governor is sending the troops home when there continues to be a critical need for frontline workers at the facility.
“Despite the looming withdrawal of the [troops], we have seen no plan put in place to deal with the gap in critical services their departure will create,” Vos and Wanggaard wrote. “The National Guard has been providing necessary assistance to our veterans and the staff at the Veterans Home at Union Grove during this time of need.”
The troops are set to leave on Wednesday.
Evers’ office essentially blamed lawmakers for the move, saying the governor’s hands are tied because of the 2021 Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that checked the governor’s emergency powers.
“The Wisconsin National Guard’s current activation is under federal Title 32 status for pandemic response, which means the cost of activation is 100% federally funded but must be tied to the pandemic response mission,” spokeswoman Britt Cudaback told a Madison TV station. “Under this activation, we cannot use the Guard to simply provide additional workforce support that is unrelated to the direct impact of the pandemic.”
Wanggaard took to Twitter on Tuesday to call that response from the governor “crap.”
He said the governor can keep the troops at the veterans’ home until July. “Plenty of time for him to have a plan,” Wanggaard tweeted.
Vos and Wanggaard’s letter said the same thing.
“You have had more than enough time to prepare for their departure and pulling them out now without a backup plan is dangerously short-sighted and will have potentially dire consequences for the members living there and those that staff them,” the letter stated.
Wisconsin’s Department of Veterans Affairs says it has been trying since 2019 to hire enough workers at the home in Union Grove, including offering sign-on bonuses and increased pay.
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