State Veterans Affairs secretary designee Mary Kolar assured organization representatives that veterans assistance programs are financially secure and that plans call for a greater awareness of their benefits.

In Kenosha Monday to promote the state budget and veterans assistance programs, Kolar told a gathering of officials with the Division of Veterans Services, the American Legion Post 21, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1865 and state legislators that she wanted to see more veterans use the services.

She said additional funds have been put into the budget to provide support for veterans.

“We have made changes, and we will be solvent,” she said.

Kolar, a retired naval officer of 28 years, said she wanted to promote programs, like the Veterans Outreach and Recovery Program, to help reduce veteran homelessness and help those with mental illness and additional problems.

Kolar said the veteran suicide rate is high, saying she hopes more veterans avail themselves of the services available to them.

The VORP program, according to the material released by the Wisconsin Department of Veteran Affairs, has been somewhat effective as more people start using the services.

The program has made more than 1,200 community connections, serving 550 veterans.

One of the results has been a 23 percent decrease in veteran homelessness in the state 2014 to 2017.

According to the WDVA, 50 percent of homeless veterans have serious mental illness, while 70 percent have substance use issues.

Kolar also discussed the state’s Veterans Trust Fund and the state-run veterans homes that are located in King, Chippewa Falls and Union Grove.

Under the housing program, veterans who have entered service through the state or have lived in Wisconsin for 12 consecutive months since discharge can apply to live in one of the homes.

Veterans can learn more about the services by calling 800-947-8387 or going to WisVets.com

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