Ahead of his April 1 retirement, David Montag and his wife Candace had a decision to make on where to start the next chapter of their lives. After 20 years and four months of service in the Army, they chose Wisconsin, David’s home state.
Before David finished his last seven months at Fort Carson, CO, Candace moved with their three children–Kayla, 15; Tyler, 11; and Dylan, 7–to Cross Plains, WI, in May 2018. When his terminal leave began in December, David joined his family to plant new roots and join the community.
We recently spoke with Candance on the unexpected benefits of living in Wisconsin.
In Wisconsin: Since moving to Wisconsin, have you noticed an appreciation for service members and their families?
Candace Montag: Our Cross Plains community and neighbors have shown both the military and us a lot of gratitude. On Memorial Day and Veterans Day, some residents in Cross Plains have large flags placed in their front yard to express their appreciation. It’s a delightful sight to see.
In Wisconsin: What Wisconsin activities have you and your family enjoyed so far?
CM: Even though we have only been Wisconsin residents for less than a year, we quickly realized there is so much to do here. Throughout the year, there are plenty of opportunities to go camping, fishing or hiking. There are things like sporting events, concerts, going to plays, markets and being close to other bigger cities like Milwaukee has kept us entertained. We feel there is always something to do if we want to venture out. In Cross Plains, we are enjoying getting to know people, and we have been welcomed with open arms from so many.
In Wisconsin: Is there anything that surprised you about Wisconsin’s veteran and family offerings?
CM: We were pleasantly surprised to learn about the GI Wisconsin Bill benefits. When David enlisted in Wisconsin and then chose to retire in Wisconsin, he had no idea those two choices would allow him and our family to attend any Wisconsin state university tuition-free. How amazing is that? Also, Wisconsin’s tax-free retirement benefit was attractive as well.
In Wisconsin: How has the move to Wisconsin been for your family?
CM:For the most part, our kiddos are enjoying being in one spot. They each have friends in the neighborhood and seem to be adjusting well. One thing for sure is they are all loving being geographically closer to our family. After visiting us for a few months, my mother moved to Middleton from Fairfax, VA, because she decided the area was great and chose to move closer to us. We’ve been away from family for so long and it feels so nice to have the physical support from everyone. The school district we chose to live in is one of the best in the state. As parents, we feel our kids are getting the attention and education every child deserves.
In Wisconsin: What would you tell a military family who is on the fence about living in Wisconsin?
CM:Each family should make a list of what is important to them. For us, the Madison area checked the majority of our list. Excellent schools, employment opportunities, educationand tax benefits for veterans, and plenty of fun and entertaining activitiesthroughout the year.
Candace’s success story is just one of many. Wisconsin continues to gain national attention for helping transitioning veterans and spouses find lifestyle and employment opportunities. Find other perspectives on Wisconsin helping military spouses transition here and here.