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WVM Damage & Response Timeline, v.7.15.2
WVM Damage & Response Timeline, v.7.15.2


Veterans Ask Community for Support in Repairing Damage to Wisconsin Veterans Museum


Madison, WI - A group of veterans calling itself Wisconsin Veterans for a Clean Museum is asking for the community’s support in removing recent graffiti from the walls of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and preventing further vandalism.


Located at 30 West Mifflin Street on Madison’s Capitol Square, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum had, like many businesses in downtown Madison, covered all exterior windows and display cases with plywood to prevent possible damage to the museum’s interior during recent protests. However, beginning with protests on May 31 through the present, the museum has been continually defaced with spray paint on the exposed sandstone portions of its exterior walls. The resulting damage is extensive, and repairs to the stone walls are expected to be costly.


“As veterans, we fought for and deeply respect the rights of citizens to peacefully protest. We ask for the community’s support in repairing the recent damage to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and for its help in preserving this building, which serves to honor all of our state’s veterans who fought and sacrificed bravely to protect those rights,” said BJ Ganem, member of Wisconsin Veterans for a Clean Museum and former Marine infantryman and Purple Heart recipient.


The Wisconsin Veterans Museum is rented by the Wisconsin Department of Veteran Affairs (WDVA) for $749,000 annually. The WDVA has held a lease with the building’s owner, Greg Rice of Madison Real Estate Properties, since 1989.


On June 10, Wisconsin Veterans for a Clean Museum sent an open letter to WDVA Secretary Mary Kolar with an offer to help repair the damage. The group has worked closely with local businesses to charter a project to restore the building. A proposed aspect of this project is to display images selected by a veteran focus group to show the contributions of African American service members before and after military unit segregation, as well as the cohesive nature of modern-day multiracial, multigender military units.


Although the veteran group raised over $20,000 in project funding commitments from individual and corporate donors, the building owner suddenly reversed course recently and withdrew his support for the project. On July 7, the board of Wisconsin Veterans Museum Foundation voted 6-3 against accepting the raised funds. On July 8, Wisconsin Veterans for a Clean Museum contacted Secretary Kolar about the vote and to ask if she supported repairing the museum; it has not received a response.


Wisconsin Veterans for a Clean Museum is asking their fellow Wisconsin veterans and other members of the community to express their support for this project and for repairing the museum. If you wish to voice your support for the cleanup project, please contact Wisconsin WDVA Secretary Mary Kolar’s office at 608-266-1315 or email


June 10, 2020 

   Mary Kolar, Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs 2135 Rimrock Rd Madison, WI 53713 

   Chris Kolakowski, Director, Wisconsin Veterans Museum 30 W. Mifflin St. Madison, WI 53703

   Jennifer Carlson, Executive Director, WVM Foundation 30 W. Mifflin St. Madison, WI 53703 



Dear Secretary Kolar, Director Kolakowski, and Executive Director Carlson: 

Between May 31, 2020 and June 7, 2020, in Madison, Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum building façade was damaged by graffiti. 

As military veterans we risked our lives to guarantee the very Constitutional rights that are being exercised each day on the capital square in Madison and elsewhere across the United States. In our experience, times of great turbulence require clear actions of leaders. For this reason, we ask that you join us at the Wisconsin Veteran's Museum on June 11, 2020 at 1500 to address an assembly of Wisconsin veterans that wish to help repair the recent damage. Whenever there is a need, you can count on our continued service and skills to safeguard our society’s most sacred landmarks and institutions. Upholding the highest traditions of the United States military is a lifelong endeavor. Please unite with us as we carry out this mission. 


Wisconsin Veterans for a Clean Museum 

Signed by: Andrew Wentworth, USMCR & USANG Veteran; Derrick Van Orden, USN (Ret); Jorge F. Hidalgo, US Army Veteran; Torrey Tiedeman, USMC Veteran; Steven Janke, USMC Veteran; Jason Church, US Army Veteran; Ron Christensen, USMC (Ret); Tim La Sage, USMC (Ret); Alejandro Arango-Escalante, USMC Veteran; BJ Ganem, USMC (Ret)


Please watch and share this video, so we can bring pressure on the Wisconsin State Government to restore Honor and Dignity to OUR Wisconsin Veterans Museum.

Thank you for your support

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