BROOKFIELD – Gov. Scott Walker signed a law designed to ease the burden on military veterans who return to Wisconsin from overseas deployment.
The “HEART” Act, requires state and local governments to recognize military service when calculating tenure and benefits for public employees.
"It's ensuring there's not a gap that they somehow don't get penalized for being deployed as a part of service to their country,” said Walker, who signed the bill into law before a group of veterans at American Legion Post 449 in Brookfield.
Wisconsin's overall unemployment rate is 7.1 percent, but amongst military veterans in the state, the rate more than doubles to 15 percent. Walker said finding work for returning veterans is a moral imperative.
"We're going to make the employment of returning veterans a No. 1 priority not just of veterans affairs, but of our administration,” he said.
Patrick Aukofer, a Wisconsin Army National Guard veteran said he was deployed in Iraq for a year and could not find a job when he returned home. "The places that i have applied, a lot of them haven't gotten back to me,” he said.
Walker said his administration plans to hist job fairs and symposiums with employers to encourage them to hire veterans,
The new law had bipartisan support -- a rare sign of agreement in a time of political division. Walker said veterans issues transcend politics. “The great news is on things like this, it isn't republican, it isn't democrat, our veterans are red white and blue, they're not red, they're not blue they're just red white and blue,” he said.