MOUNT PLEASANT — As he announced the availability of a federal program within his office for military personnel, U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil used the word “liaison” on multiple occasions.
Steil, R-Janesville, on Friday announced a two-year fellow program he dubbed Wounded Warrior. The backdrop of his announcement was the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10301, within Angry Bros. Pub in Mount Pleasant.
The goal of Wounded Warrior, Steil said, is to appoint an honorably discharged member of the military to work in a full-time, paid fellowship over the course of the next several years.
The appointee, Steil said, will bring issues concerning the more than 45,000 veterans in Kenosha, Racine, Janesville and other communities across Wisconsin’s First Congressional District to his office.
“I always need someone who’s the eyes and ears on the ground,” Steil said of the rationale behind the program.
The appointee, Steil said, will oversee a number of tasks, including outreach to the veterans community and serving as a point of contact to local, state and federal agencies. The person selected to the post also will also offer as-needed assistance in accessing the services rendered through the Veterans Administration.
Federal funds will cover the cost of the position, Steil said. The program is made available as a means of employing a wounded or disabled veteran within the U.S. House of Representatives.
Interested applicants can begin applying immediately, Steil said, through the USA Jobs portal. There is no firm timetable for when the appointee will be named to represent the state’s First Congressional District.
“We hope to have this person on staff in the very near future,” he said.
Ken Welch, a Mount Pleasant resident, serves as the current commander of VFW Post 10301. He said he was pleased the freshman legislator was making veterans’ issues a focal point as he settles into office.
“I think the Wounded Warrior fellowship is an excellent program,” said Welch, who served in the Vietnam War as an Air Force pilot.
In a broader sense, Welch said, “I’ve been very pleased with what our state does,” when it comes to veterans’ rights.
The selected fellow will need to meet a number of pieces of criteria. In addition to living within Steil’s district, the successful candidate needs to have been honorably discharged and released from active duty within the last five years.
“The gist is a vet who just left service,” Steil said.
In terms of technicalities, he or she needs to have been at a terminal pay grade at or below E-5 or O-3 and 20 percent or greater with service connected disabilities, though it can be waived for Purple Heart recipients.