November 4, 1980, I distinctly remember the first Presidential election I participated in. Yes, 1980 seems like a long time ago, because it is; 37 years is a long time. Today, 1980 seems like a different time; my point of reference has certainly changed; has the process changed? The 2016 election cycle was unlike any previously witnessed. The United States electorate has so many platforms to engage in the political process, so many voices are now being heard. The news cycle relentlessly grinds on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's easy to feel like our voices aren't heard, like we have no input, like we're irrelevant. WVMA members have a valuable platform amplifying our voices, a resource advocating on our behalf. We need to be aware of it, we need to be involved with it, we need to financially support it.
The Wisconsin Legislature's actions directly effects many WVMA members' professional and business activities. WVMA political advocacy asks the legislature to take action on behalf of Wisconsin veterinarians and veterinary practices during each session. During every election cycle, legislative candidates ask veterinarians to support campaign activities. The VetMed PAC, a state Political Action Committee, was formed by the WVMA, enabling membership to easily support candidates for Wisconsin state elective offices.
Unlicensed practice of veterinary medicine undermines our profession, jeopardizing the health and welfare of our patients. The Veterinary Examining Board oversees the veterinary practice act and was formerly housed in the Wisconsin Department of Professional Services. The WDPS was ineffective at investigating cases of unlicensed practice. The WVMA and VetMed PAC, under Attorney Jordan Lamb's extraordinary leadership, lobbied the Wisconsin Legislature to move the Veterinary Examining Board from the WDPS to Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. This was accomplished in 2015, the investigation of unlicensed veterinary practice is actively progressing, numerous cases have reached successful conclusions.
What does VetMed PAC do?
• Contributes to campaigns of candidates who recognize and understand the critical roles veterinary medicine plays in communities and in managing animal and human health issues. • The WVMA Political Action Committee selects candidates from both sides of the aisle to receive VetMed PAC financial support.
• The PAC committee solicits WVMA members' financial contributions to the VetMed PAC. The contributions must be personal contributions, no corporate contributions can be accepted.
How can you help?
• The WVMA Political Action Committee welcomes member input regarding candidates understanding of veterinary medicine. This is your platform, an opportunity for your voice to be heard.
• Contributions of $25 or $50 made by numerous WVMA members goes a very long way. This is an efficient and effective way to become involved.
Support the VetMed PAC, ensure your voice will be heard, ensure you remain relevant in politics, politics, politics!
Over the past several years, the WVMA has become acutely aware of the increasing mental health and substance abuse stresses that our professionals are experiencing. Survey studies by mental health experts have quantified the challenges facing some of our colleagues. Articles in our press have made us aware of this issue. The stresses of veterinary school and practice can combine to create depression, anxiety, and even suicide for some of our colleagues.
In a cooperative effort to provide additional resources for our profession, the WVMA worked with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and Governor Walker’s office to get authorization for the creation of a Professional Assistance Program for Veterinarians and CVTs included in the 2017-19 state biennial budget bill. The program is funded with existing license fees and will be a much-needed resource for Wisconsin veterinary professionals who are struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues. This is a major victory for veterinarians in Wisconsin. The WVMA will be working with DATCP as this program is developed. We extend our thanks to DATCP and the Governor’s Office for their recognition of this need for our profession and the commitment to creating this professional assistance program.