Monday, November 5, 2012

43 years later, old telegram yields medal

 By Dennis Punzel, Wisconsin State Journal
When Larry Stanczyk received a minor shrapnel injury in Vietnam in 1969, little did he suspect it would take him 43 years to heal completely.
Stanczyk, 64, will officially receive a Purple Heart in a Veterans Day ceremony Friday morning in the Capitol rotunda.
The ceremony will mark a day Stanczyk never thought he’d see. But it’s come to pass due in large part to his desire to leave something memorable for his granddaughter, combined with a dash of serendipity and a pinch of persistence.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Soviet Propaganda at Vets Museum

Twenty-two Cold War era posters will be on display as part of a "special evening with David Olien," according to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. Olien is senior vice president emeritus of the UW System.
The event takes place 5-9 p.m. Friday at the museum, 30 W. Mifflin, Madison, WI. The event is free and open to the public. For more information:  Call Jennifer Kollath at 608.264.7663. The posters -- "From Revolution to Reform" -- are up now and will remain on display through Dec. 31.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Job and benefit fair at McCoy

From Fort McCoy public affairs:

A Veterans Career and Benefits Fair will be held Friday, Sept. 7 from noon-3 p.m. at the Wisconsin Military Academy, building 90 at Fort McCoy. All veterans from any military service and current servicemembers and their spouses/Family members are welcome to attend the free event.

    The event will feature a number of services to help veterans seeking employment, said Rickie Larson of the State of Wisconsin Work Force Development/Job Center.

    Local employers will have booths. Veterans can learn more about the employers, potential job opportunities, have a short interview with employers about their job skills or leave resumes or job applications with employers.

    "This is the first time we've held one of these at Fort McCoy where there will actually be employers involved," Larson said. "Before we've always had Supermarket of Veterans Benefits or benefit fairs."

    Representatives from state and federal agencies will be available to talk about job opportunities in their fields, Larson said.

    Veterans also can receive information about various benefit programs available to them, including loans, health care, educational benefits and applying for state and federal veteran benefits.

    Local Office of Veterans Services and Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs staff and County Veterans Service officers also will be available to answer questions and will have information about their programs.

    People accessing Fort McCoy from off post will need to come through the Main Gate and provide a photo identification (driver's license is OK), vehicle insurance information and vehicle registration to apply for a visitor's pass to attend the event.

    For more information about the Veterans Career and Benefits Fair at Fort McCoy, call Larson at 608-785-9376 or Vern Tranberg at 608-785-9363.

    For more information about other Veterans Career and Benefits Fairs in Wisconsin, visit the website

    For more information about State of Wisconsin veterans benefits, visit the website The site also includes a link to federal veterans benefits.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Wisconsin general honored by NAACP

One of the NAACP’s top honors this year will go to a Beloit native with strong Dane County ties who last year made history by becoming the Army’s first African-American woman promoted to two-star general.
Maj. Gen. Marcia Anderson is to receive the Benjamin L. Hooks Distinguished Service Award next week during the annual National Association for the Advancement of Colored People convention in Houston.
The award was first given in 1990 in recognition of the Hooks’ service in the 92nd Infantry Division during WWII. He was the NAACP’s sixth executive director.
Anderson was born in Beloit. Her family moved to East St. Louis, Ill., when she was in the second grade.
She moved back to Wisconsin in 1998 to take the job of clerk of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Madison.
She was a member of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs board from 2008 to 2010, including a stint as chairwoman.
Anderson’s 31-year military career started when she signed up for Army ROTC as a student at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.
She stayed with the military, fulfilling an eight-year commitment before re-enlisting in the reserves.
When she wasn’t on active duty, Anderson lived in Verona with her husband, Amos Anderson.
In 2010 she was promoted to brigadier general — which made her the Army’s highest ranking African-American woman — and assigned to the full-time post of deputy commanding general of the Human Resources Command at Fort Knox in Kentucky.
With her promotion last year, she moved to the office of the chief of the U.S. Army Reserve in Washington, D.C.
She has said that when she retires from the military, she plans to move back to Verona.
(AP Photo/The News Enterprise, Jill Pickett) 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

WDVA top aide Johns stepping down

The Associated Press is reporting that Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Jason Johns has decided to resign.
Johns is an Iraq veteran and earned a Purple Heart. He has served as deputy secretary at WDVA since September 2011. Before that, he was a lobbyist in the Capitol.
His last day at the agency will be Friday. He said in a statement WDVA released Monday he has decided to focus on his family.
Agency Secretary John Scocos wrote in a memo to his staff Monday that Johns has decided to concentrate on caring for his son, William, who was born premature in April, his 3-year-old twin daughters and his wife. (Wisconsin State Journal archive photo by John Maniaci)

According to the WDVA website:
Jason Johns was appointed by Secretary Scocos and serves as the Deputy Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs. He serves as the chief legislative liaison as well as the head of public affairs and policy making.
Deputy Secretary Johns is a Purple Heart recipient and Army veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, having served and been wounded by enemy action there during his tour in 2003-04. He comes to the WDVA from the private sector where he represented his clients in the Wisconsin State Legislature as well as volunteering his time to act as a legislative officer for multiple veterans service organizations in the state.
Deputy Secretary Johns grew up in Louisburg, WI and has earned a Juris Doctorate from Hamline University School of Law as well as a B.A. in History from the University of Northern Iowa. After completing his education he practiced law in Washington, D.C. before returning home to Wisconsin, where he worked in the Capitol as well as on numerous political campaigns and then moving back in to the private sector.
Deputy Secretary Johns resides just outside of Madison in the Village of Oregon, where has been an active member of the community over the years serving on village committees, as President of the Chamber of Commerce, and multiple years as commander of his local VFW Post.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Census and CSPAN: "Who are U.S. vets?"

From the U.S. Census Bureau: 
Live on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” “America by the Numbers” 
Seven percent of U.S. women were veterans in 2010. Find out more on Friday, May 25, at approximately 9 a.m. CDT as Melissa Chiu, chief of the Industry and Occupation Statistics Branch at the U.S. Census Bureau, discusses statistics about our veteran population. Each Friday, C-SPAN’s “America By the Numbers” segment features information from the federal statistical system. The program highlights the trends and allows the public to call in or email their views. More information on previous C-SPAN programs is available at

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

ICYMI: "War on women" also hits returning military, Wis vet says

Military veterans are the big losers in the rollback of a Wisconsin law that had allowed women, minorities and other protected groups to sue in state court over employment discrimination, say leaders of a statewide veterans group. Read the Wisconsin State Journal article here.

Wisconsin Dryhootch found honored at White House

Dryhootch founder Bob Curry will be honored at the White House tomorrow at 11 a.m. CT.
The grand opening of Dryhootch Madison at the Veterans Welcome Resource Center, 8025 Excelsior Drive,  took place last week..

From the White House:
WASHINGTON, DC – On Thursday, May 24th, the White House Office of Public Engagement will honor Robert Curry as one of eleven individuals within the veterans’ community, especially those who served in Vietnam, who are Champions of Change.  These individuals have shown continued support for efforts to end veterans’ homelessness, boost veterans’ employment, treat problems with substance abuse, and develop treatment programs for those dealing with PTSD.

“Today’s Vietnam Veteran Champions of Change represent some of the best of their generation – those who served with dedication and courage.  These American patriots continue to serve in their communities today, improving the lives of their fellow veterans and military families,” said Rosye Cloud, the White House Director of Veterans, Wounded Warrior and Military Family Policy.  “As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, we are reminded of their unwavering commitment to their country yesterday, today and tomorrow.” 

The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.

To watch this event live, visit at 12:00 pm ET on May 24th.

Robert Curry is a combat veteran of Vietnam and Laos. In an effort to help our newest generation of soldiers transition as they returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, he founded, which has grown rapidly in locations and services and helped an increasing number of veterans and their families.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ag mission changes for Wisconsin guard in Afghanistan

The mission has changed for a Wisconsin National Guard team that arrived in Afghanistan in early April to work on improving agriculture.
The team's security contingent will be reassigned because the team's agriculture specialists will be merged with a larger Army unit, the Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team, which has its own protective force, said Madison-based spokeswoman Lt. Col. Jackie Guthrie.
Read the Wisconsin State Journal article here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Oshkosh Guard units switches gears, heads for Afghan war

From the Wisconsin National Guard:
The Oshkosh-based 1157th Transportation Company of the Wisconsin Army National Guard has completed its mobilization training at Camp Shelby, Miss., and is eager to hit the road - even if that road is somewhere in Afghanistan, where the unit arrived early this morning (April 17).
"They're more than ready," 1st Sgt. Tom Krueck said last week at Camp Shelby. "They're excited - they want to get out of here and do what they're supposed to be doing."
Initially tasked with transportation and base security missions in Kuwait, the unit was reassigned to conduct convoy security missions in Afghanistan. The change in mission also meant a change in vehicles and tactics from what the unit typically trains for.
Read the Wisconsin National Guard press release

Photo: Soldiers of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 1157th Transportation Company practice first aid and combat lifesaver skills in realistic conditions March 5 at Camp Shelby, Miss. The 1157th has completed its mobilization training and will conduct convoy escort missions in Afghanistan. 1157th Transportation Company photo

Thursday, March 29, 2012

4 to be inducted in Wisconsin National Guard Hall of Fame

From the Wisconsin National Guard:
Four outstanding former Guard Soldiers have been chosen to enter the prestigious Wisconsin Army National Guard Hall of Honor.
A special committee of current and past Guard Soldiers selected retired Brig. Gen. Kerry Denson of Lake Mills, Wis., retired Brig. Gen. James Krueck of McFarland, Wis., retired Col. Timothy Pfrang of Sussex, Wis., and retired Col. David Schumacher of Onalaska, Wis., to receive one of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's highest honors for exceptional achievement and devotion to duty.
They join the ranks of 46 individuals previously inducted into the Hall of Honor.
Denson was drafted into the U.S. Army in December 1965, earning the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, 35 Air Medals and the Purple Heart during two tours in Vietnam as a UH-1 combat pilot. He joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard after completing his active duty service, and served in a variety of command and staff assignments. He commanded the 147th Attack Helicopter Battalion, served as director of aviation for the Wisconsin Army National Guard, and served the final nine years of his career as commander of the Wisconsin Army National Guard. Denson's military career spanned 40 years and 10 months.
Krueck enlisted in the Wisconsin Army National Guard in 1966. He reached the rank of staff sergeant before being appointed as a warrant officer in 1975. He completed Officer Candidate School in 1976 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant of armor in 1978. He held a variety of command and staff assignments in the 32nd Infantry Brigade headquarters; 1st Battalion, 632nd Armor; 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery; 13th Evacuation Hospital; and the 64th Troop Command before becoming deputy director of personnel and administration for the Wisconsin Army National Guard in 1994. Krueck then served as director of personnel and administration, director of human resources, director of logistics, and chief of staff at State Headquarters. He commanded the 32nd Infantry Brigade for six years beginning in October 2000. He was promoted to brigadier general in 2004. He deployed to Kuwait as commander of the 32nd Separate Infantry Brigade (Light) and deputy commander of the 377th Theater Support Command in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He commanded the Wisconsin Army National Guard from November 2006 until his retirement in February 2008. His military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal and two Meritorious Service Medals.
Pfrang enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1971, and enlisted in the Wisconsin Army National Guard in 1974. He received his commission in 1977 and, after graduating Infantry Officer Basic Course in 1978, was assigned as a platoon leader in Company B, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry. He held a variety of staff and command assignments at the battalion and brigade level until assuming command of the 132nd Support Battalion in July 1996. He was assigned as the Wisconsin Army National Guard mobilization readiness officer in October 1998, the operations and training officer in late 2000 and the director of plans and operations in 2002. He was promoted to colonel in October 2002.His military awards include the Legion of Merit and two Meritorious Service Medals.
Schumacher joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard in June 1967 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1969. As training officer for the 426th Engineer Battalion he developed professional development programs for junior officers and was rated the top field grade officer in the 264th Engineer Group. During his time as commander, the 426th Engineer Battalion earned the Eisenhower Trophy and Superior Unit Award, oversaw the mobilization of the 229th Engineer Company and deployed to Panama in 1992 in support of Fortes Caminos. During this time Schumacher also served on the Fort McCoy Facility Review Committee, which eventually led to relocating the Wisconsin Military Academy from Camp Williams to Fort McCoy in 1995. He commanded the Wisconsin Military Academy and the 426th Regiment from 1992 until his retirement in 1997, and led the academy through a period of significant growth and transition. Throughout his career Schumacher was regarded as among the best officers of his rank, and his military awards include the Legion of Merit and two Meritorious Service Medals.
A public induction ceremony will be held May 5 at 10 a.m. in Witmer Hall, Joint Force Headquarters in Madison.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wisconsin Air National Guard cuts questioned

Members of Wisconsin's congressional delegation are asking the Air Force to explain plans for cutting three aircraft and about 5 percent of the personnel from the Wisconsin Air National Guard.

Read their letter to the Secretary of the Air Force.
Reported in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Special effort reunites vets with money

Wisconsin's treasury and veterans affairs departments say they have found  $76,418.20 for 293 veterans. That's an average of about $261 per person.

Officials merged a WDVA list of vets with the names in treasury's Unclaimed Property Fund, then mailed claims forms to the 3,000 veterans. About one in 10 have made claims for amounts ranging from $5 to just under $4,000, according to a press release from WDVA Secretary John Scocos and Treasurer Kurt Schuller.

There is about $400 million in the unclaimed property account. You can check for your name on the  State Treasurer’s website:

Monday, February 6, 2012

WDVA offices moving Feb. 11

Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs announced today that its offices will move to 201 W. Washington on Feb. 11.

Veterans Museum stays where it is on Mifflin on the Square, but big changes may be on tap. Here's more on the master plan for
... a $75 million joint Wisconsin Historical and Veterans museum that could be part of a larger private project with private offices, retail space and parking in Downtown Madison.
No site has been selected, but the state has studied the current Historical Museum property on Capitol Square coupled with private holdings behind it at the corner of North Fairchild and West Mifflin streets.
The development could provide 200,000 square feet of space for the museums, state documents say.
State Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch has convened a task force of community leaders, interested parties and experts — including Mayor Paul Soglin — to explore sites, financing and other issues. The task force had an initial meeting on Jan. 23 and will meet through the year.

Friday, January 27, 2012

IED claims Wisconsin Army officer just weeks after deployment to Afghanistan

An Army officer from Mayville was killed by an IED on Wednesday while on foot patrol in Kandahar Province. 1st Lt. David Johnson had told friends and relatives he felt lucky to command a platoon-sized firebase in a "very active" part of Afghanistan. Johnson shipped out just before Christmas, family members said.

From the soldier's base public affairs office:
1st Lt. Johnson was a platoon leader assigned to 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
According to unit records, Johnson was commissioned in 2010 through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), and he is a graduate of Evangel University, Springfield, Mo. In 2011 he attended the Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Benning, Ga. He arrived at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in August 2011, and was assigned to 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. The unit deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in December. This was 1st Lt. Johnson’s first deployment.
Johnson’s civilian and military education includes a Bachelor of Science degree from Evangel University (2010), Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course (2011), Combatives level 1 and 2 (2011), and the Stryker Brigade Combat Team Leaders Course (2011).
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Global War on Terror Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge and the Overseas Service Bar.

Oahu trip planned for Wisconsin's survivors of Pearl Harbor

An Appleton-based volunteer group that has been flying area World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., to see war memorials is launching a statewide effort to take Wisconsin survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack to Hawaii on June 14-18.
Old Glory Honor Flights is looking for veterans who were stationed on Oahu or within 3 nautical miles at the time of the attack. Call 1-888-635-9838 and leave a message by Feb. 6 for more information. Many Wisconsin survivors of the attack still have vivid memories, which propelled the U.S. into WWII. Dec. 7 was the 70th anniversary.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Flying Tigers ace from Wisconsin featured in new exhibit

Flying Tigers ace Fritz Wolf of Shawano, Wisconsin, is the focus of an exhibit opening  Jan. 31 at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison. 
Wolf was a naval aviator who flew in Burma and China in 1941-42, and from  the decks of the USS Hornet and USS Yorktown in 1944-45. According to a museum description of the exhibit:
During World War II, Wolf shot down five enemy aircraft, including two Japanese bombers on December 20, 1941. This new exhibit features numerous artifacts, including a scarf given to him and his fellow “Flying Tigers” by Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, photographs and mementos from his service, and a short film detailing Wolf’s homecoming parade in July 1942.
The museum is  located at 30 W. Mifflin St., across the street from the State Capitol. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wiscsonsin may waive professional license fees for vets

The State Assembly Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs unanimously passed Assembly Bills 429 and 438 on Thursday. AB 429 grants a one-time occupational or professional license fee waiver for qualified veterans. SB 338, passed the state Senate on Tuesday. AB 438 recognizes military training, education or experience as meeting some requirements for certain state professional credentials, according to Gov. Scott Walker's office:
“We owe it to our veterans to assist them in obtaining jobs,” Walker said in a press release. “I thank Representative Wynn for authoring this legislation and the Assembly committee for its strong bipartisan support of the bills.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Another WDVA member resigns

Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs board member Marv Freedman resigned today.  In a letter to Gov. Scott Walker, Freedman said:
"When you signed AB 96 into law last summer, you relegated the board into irrelevance and ensured the politicalization of the position of Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs ... a position that could now change with the election of each new governor. ... Then you made your subsequent appointment of a Department Secretary ... despite compelling reasons to appoint someone else, including, but not limited to, the findings of the Legislative Audit Bureau ... which detailed substantive management failures of your appointee during his original tenure....I have decided that I cannot in good conscience continue to serve on the Board when my presence could well be construed as my tacit approval of your ill-advised decision(s)."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Closed Mondays

Wisconsin Veterans Museum galleries in Madison will close Mondays beginning Jan. 30 to allow employees to safely move and maintain exhibits, the state Department of Veterans Affairs announced today.

The press release says it's a common practice for museums to close Mondays. I have a call in to find out how much money is saved.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Two more Badger Honor flights scheduled

 Badger Honor Flights has schedule two trips for next spring, on April 21 and May 21, volunteer Steve Bartlett tells me. They have 200 World War II veterans on their waiting list, so at 100 per flight, the math is easy.

The urgency of the flights never stops being apparent.

The latest evidence: Ken Hur passed away this week after going on the Nov. 12 flight.
"Ken had Alzheimers and still thoroughly enjoyed the trip, even though he was in a wheel chair the entire time.  His daughter Janine flew back from Paris to escort him as a Guardian," Steve said.

For more information about the programs go to or call (608) 616-0243.