Rhinelander Expo brings resources to veterans


Hundreds of veterans and their families attended a Veterans Benefit Expo Friday at the Hodag Dome in Rhinelander. Eileen Persike photo.

The Hodag Dome in Rhinelander was a one-stop shop for Northwoods veterans last Friday, April 28, 2023. A Veterans Benefits Expo featured more than 70 vendors, including Veterans Service Officers (VSO) from Lincoln County and six other counties; one tribal VSO; the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain; Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs; and several veterans’ organizations.
It has been four years since this event was last held, and the first year at the Hodag Dome. Oneida County VSO Tammy Javenkoski said with the extra space organizers made the event as big as they could to attract vets.
“So many veterans didn’t do things when they were young – you know, they’re young, invincible, they have jobs, and now that they’re getting older and they need more help, maybe financially, maybe physically, it’s just really beneficial for them,” Javenkoski said. “We’ve really tried to think about all our veterans, young and old, native and non-native, LGBTQ, suicide awareness, help for homeless and those in danger of being homeless. I think we really hit it all here.”
Lincoln County VSO John Olson said his goals for the expo were twofold.
“To provide the resources to veterans and to bring representatives of the different agencies that they work with so they can ask questions and get answers face to face,” Olson said. “Second, to show the support we have for the veterans, but more importantly, for us is to get a touch point with a lot of veterans we haven’t met with or seen before and let them know the resources available to them.”
Every county in Wisconsin has a Veterans Service Office but, Javenkoski added, with a staff of one or two, it is difficult to reach as many vets as they would like.
“Budgets are limited, so we can’t advertise as much as we’d like to,” Javenkoski said. “So this way we can have a ton of vendors in one place, and it gives people the opportunity to learn a lot.”

Lincoln County Veterans Service Officer (VSO) John Olson, center, talks with a representative of K9 Patriots of Wisconsin at the Veterans Benefit Expo Friday at the Hodag Dome in Rhinelander. At left is Lincon County deputy VSO Tiffany Daigle. Eileen Persike photo.

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