January 2020 Executive Director Message

Dear WI Veterans Chamber members, sponsors, and supporters,

It has been four years since we began this journey and established the only business association in Wisconsin dedicated to serving military veterans and their families. What started at a small, informal gathering not far from here has grown and expanded to what you see today- a vibrant community of current service members and supporters, veterans and civilians, entrepreneurs and business leaders, committed to the empowerment and success of every military veteran and their families.

It is truly remarkable to see what we have built together in such a short time, and the progress we have made in the last year. Nearly 300 businesses and nonprofit organizations are members of our organization, with 90% of them renewing their membership every year. 25 sponsors have invested in our organization and shown their commitment to empowering veterans and their families. We held more than 50 events, attended by thousands of veterans, service members, family members, and supporters. We have worked with local, regional, and statewide media outlets to celebrate veterans and how we contribute to our economy, our workplaces, and our communities. And we have developed nearly thirty original, innovative programs dedicated to empowering veterans to use the talent and skills we learned while serving in the military to become leaders and role models after we leave the military.

This has been an incredible year for Wisconsin’s veteran business community. We have hit record numbers of attendance and have expanded our reach throughout the state. We expanded and hired new staff members. We have a team of seven hardworking and dedicated staff members who live and support the mission of the organization and ensure the success of each Chamber member.

We launched a brand new workforce development program, Invest in Vets. Standing by our mission, we created Invest in Vets to help educate and provide the right tools and resources to businesses looking to recruit and retain military- and veteran-affiliated employees. The 5-Star Invest in Vets Program supports employers of every size by offering resources, training, and information to create empowering and inclusive workplaces for military, veteran and/or spouse employees. Invest in Vets also includes two public recruitment pledges for employers committing to hire military spouses, as well as offering internship opportunities to veterans and service members. More than 100 pledges have been signed-in less than three months, a clear sign of the commitment and support of employers around the state.

In August we announced that we will organize and lead a U.S. Census Complete Count Committee dedicated to engaging Wisconsin military service members, veterans and their families in the 2020 Census. The U.S. Census Bureau’s Complete Count Committees are coalitions made up of individuals, groups, and organizations dedicated to increasing awareness about the census and motivating residents to respond. The U.S. Census is foundational to the civic health of all our communities, including Wisconsin’s veteran community. We are proud to work with our community partners and stakeholders to ensure all veterans, service members and their families are counted accurately in the 2020 census.

Our growth, expansion, and programs would not be possible without our members, sponsors, volunteers, and partners. Your support and partnership enable us to continue expanding economic opportunities for veterans, military service members, and their families across Wisconsin. Our impact and accomplishments over the last year are thanks to all of you, and we look forward to growing with you in 2020.

Thank you for all you do.
Saul Newton