Military & Veterans News
If VA allegations are true, heads have to roll PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Vonnie Hampel   
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 08:27

“This past weekend we celebrated Memorial Day where we take time to remember the men and women who gave their lives defending our nation and protecting the freedoms that we all deeply cherish. As we remember our fallen service members, we must continue to fight for the men and women who are currently serving our nation, as well as redouble our efforts to provide the best care possible to those who volunteered to serve and defend our nation when they return home.

“As a parent of military children the recent events at various VA health centers across the nation have been deeply disturbing to me. I believe that the VA must do everything in their power to rectify this situation and I will work to ensure they have the resources they need to prevent anything further from harming our veterans. But let me be clear, after the investigation has been concluded, if there is any evidence of wrongdoing, heads need to roll and people at the top must be held accountable.” – Congressman Dave Loebsack

Loebsack’s Work on Behalf of Veterans

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Dave has worked to improve care and benefits for our service members and veterans, including expanding Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits for the National Guard; expanding access to mental health care; helping our veterans find civilian jobs; and opening new Community Based Outpatient Clinics to improve access to VA services for Iowa veterans. He also co-introduced bipartisan legislation to eliminate the waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for service members wounded in combat.

Congressmen: 'Heads have to roll' if VA charges proven (Des Moines Register- May 23)

Tony Leys

Two Iowa congressmen expressed confidence in the state's two VA hospitals Friday, but said they're concerned about reports that veterans are still waiting weeks or months for appointments.

"When you talk to a lot of veterans, you find that while … initially getting in the system can be difficult and delayed, once they get into the system, they are very, very pleased," said Rep. Tom Latham, a Republican.

Latham and a Democratic colleague, Rep. Dave Loebsack, toured the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital on Des Moines' north side.

Both congressmen expressed anger about national reports that officials at some VA hospitals falsified reports to camouflage how long veterans were waiting to obtain medical appointments. In the most prominent example, about 40 patients reportedly died while waiting to get into the Phoenix VA hospital, where staff members allegedly faked documents to hide the problem.

"It's an absolute outrage," Latham said of the allegations. "Somebody should go to jail, as far as I'm concerned, if that's the case."

Loebsack agreed. "If these allegations prove to be correct … heads have to roll, there's no doubt about it," he said.

However, neither congressman favors immediate dismissal of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, which some critics have demanded.

President Barack Obama defended Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki Wednesday and said if there has been misconduct at the VA, it will be punished. Obama spoke after an Oval Office meeting with Shinseki and top aide Rob Nabors. (May 21) AP

"I don't know if that's going to change anything," Latham said. "If you want to have some kind of a trophy, I guess that sounds good, but I don't think it changes anything internally."

The congressmen noted that waiting lists have dogged the VA for years, despite Congress' willingness to pump billions of extra dollars into the system. "This is not a surprise, this is not a new story," Latham said. "I think the idea of secret waiting lists is new to the whole debate, but to me it's just a failure of the system."

Shinseki has ordered a review of all VA hospitals. VA officials have said 26 hospitals are being subject to especially intense investigations. They haven't identified most of the 26, although Latham told reporters that neither of the Iowa VA hospitals is among them.

Latham noted that he has sponsored legislation that would grant insurance cards to veterans, which they could use for medical care at hometown hospitals instead of at VA facilities. He said he believes such an approach, which would be voluntary, would make it easier for many veterans to gain care. But he noted that some national veterans groups have resisted the idea out of fear that it would weaken the VA.

Loebsack said he would be open to such a plan if it would help veterans.

Loebsack's district includes the Iowa City VA, which he said he has visited repeatedly. He said he asked to tour the Des Moines hospital with Latham so they could show bipartisan concerns about the situation. "I think if there's any silver lining to this, it is that we're refocusing attention on our veterans and what our veterans have done for us," he said.

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Braley Statement on Announcement that Nearly 10,000 Troops Could Remain in Afghanistan Beyond this Year PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Kirsten Hartman   
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 08:26

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today released the following statement after an announcement that the Obama administration will support a plan to keep 9,800 troops stationed in Afghanistan beyond the end of the year.

“Thousands of our brave severicemembers have sacrificed their lives in Afghanistan, and tens of thousands more have sustained serious injury. We should be bringing all of our troops home, not continuing to put nearly 10,000 of them in harm’s way halfway around the world. It’s long-past time the Afghan people were in control of their own future.”

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Gov. Branstad submits transmittal letters for Home Base Iowa, Iowa Apprenticeship and Job Training Act PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 14:53

(DES MOINES) – After signing the Home Base Iowa Act yesterday at Camp Dodge, and the Iowa Apprenticeship and Job Training Act today at Facebook in Altoona, Iowa, Gov. Terry E. Branstad today formally sent the transmittal letters to the Iowa Secretary of State.

Bills signed Monday, May 26, 2014

Senate File 2352 an Act relating to the additional homestead credit for certain disabled veterans and including effective date and applicability provisions.

Senate File 303 an Act relating to veterans, military service members, and certain survivor beneficiaries and including effective date and retroactive applicability provisions.

Bill signed today, Tuesday, May 27, 2014

House File 2460: an Act relating to and making appropriations to the Department of Cultural Affairs, the Economic Development Authority, the Department of Workforce Development, the Iowa Finance Authority, the Public Employment Relations Board, and the State Board of Regents and Regents Institutions, and providing for other properly related matters, and including effective date provisions.

Gov. Branstad exercised his item veto authority on House File 2460 in accordance with Amendment IV of the Amendments of 1968 to the Constitution of the State of Iowa. The item veto message can be found here. The full message is pasted below.

May 27, 2014

The Honorable Matt Schultz

Secretary of State of Iowa

State Capitol

Des Moines, Iowa 50319 

   

Dear Mr. Secretary:  

   

I hereby transmit House File 2460, an Act relating to and making appropriations to the Department of Cultural Affairs, the Economic Development Authority, the Department of Workforce Development, the Iowa Finance Authority, the Public Employment Relations Board, and the State Board of Regents and regents institutions, and providing for other properly related matters, and including effective date and retroactive applicability provisions.  

   

House File 2460 is approved on this date with the following exceptions, which I hereby disapprove.   

 

I am unable to approve the item designated as Section 3, amending 2013 Iowa Acts, chapter 137, Section 21 inserting subsection 2.  This item makes changes to the administration of the 260F program.  The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) has the infrastructure to administer this program and maintaining the 260F program at the IEDA is the most efficient use of funds.  It is important to keep the 260F program consistent and stable for the business community. 

I am unable to approve the item designated as Section 16, in its entirety.  This item makes changes to the administration of the 260F program.  The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) has the infrastructure to administer this program and maintaining the 260F program at the IEDA is the most efficient use of funds.  It is important to keep the 260F program consistent and stable for the business community. 

I am unable to approve the designated portion of the item designated as Section 20, subsection 5.  This item places restrictions on the funding formula for the apprenticeship program.  Requiring all stakeholders who are recipients of funds from the apprenticeship program to comply with the same statutory funding formula is fair and transparent.

I am unable to approve the item designated as Section 21, in its entirety.  This item creates an apprenticeship training program advisory board.  Such board is unnecessary to administer the financial assistance for the apprenticeship programs because the assistance is provided by statutory formula rather than board approval.  Further, the purpose of the apprenticeship program is to create jobs and grow the private sector, not government.  This advisory board makes government bigger without serving any purpose. 

I am unable to approve the items designated as Sections 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, and 32, in their entirety.  These items make changes to the administration of the 260F program.  The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) has the infrastructure to administer this program and maintaining the 260F program at the IEDA is the most efficient use of funds.  It is important to keep the 260F program consistent and stable for the business community. 

I am unable to approve the items designated as Sections 35, 36, 37 and 38, in their entirety.  These items make changes to the administration of the 260F program.  The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) has the infrastructure to administer this program and maintaining the 260F program at the IEDA is the most efficient use of funds.  It is important to keep the 260F program consistent and stable for the business community. 

For the above reasons, I respectfully disapprove the designated items in accordance with Amendment IV of the Amendments of 1968 to the Constitution of the State of Iowa.  All other items in House File 2460 are hereby approved as of this date.

Sincerely,

TERRY E. BRANSTAD

Governor

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Gov. Branstad signs Home Base Iowa Act into law PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 14:21

Plan will attract veterans to Iowa and match them with quality, high-paying jobs

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad, joined by Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, today signed the Home Base Iowa Act into law at the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa. In addition, Branstad signedSenate File 2352 providing an additional homestead credit for disabled veterans.

“Our bipartisan Home Base Iowa plan will work to match veterans with high-paying careers in Iowa,” said Branstad. “These men and women have fought for our country, and acquired unique skillsets and training in the military. Now, with the Home Base Iowa plan signed into law, Iowa stands ready to welcome them to our communities and match them with the quality jobs across the state.”

The Home Base Iowa Act is one part of the overall Home Base Iowa initiative, a first-of-its-kind program developed to honor our country’s veterans by recruiting them, and active duty service members, for private-sector job opportunities in Iowa.  Congressman Leonard Boswell and Casey’s CEO Bob Myers, both veterans, serve as the co-chairs of the initiative.

“As Governor Branstad and I travel across Iowa, we talk with Iowa businesses that are in need of qualified workers, “Reynolds said. “Our veterans possess the skills necessary to fill integral roles in important industries and we look forward to when they call Iowa home.”

Photos of the bill signing and a video of the gun salute can be found below by clicking on the title. The photos and video can be attributed to the Iowa Governor’s Office.

VIDEOGov. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Reynolds and Maj. Gen. Tim Orr administer gun salute at Camp Dodge.

The Home Base Iowa Act does the following:

  •  ·          Fully exempts military pensions from state income tax, putting Iowa on more equal footing with states such as Florida and Texas, and our Midwestern neighbors such as Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. In addition, the bill fully exempts military survivor benefits from state income tax.  
  •  ·         Iowa’s licensing boards will adopt rules allowing credit for military training and experience in the licensing process.
  • ·         Allows private-sector companies to follow the public sector’s lead by allowing a preference in hiring and promoting veterans.
  • ·         Eliminates the special plate issuance fees charged for plates associated with military service.
    • ·      Expands eligibility for the Military Homeownership Assistance Program, which provides $5,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance.  Additional funding for the program is provided in a separate appropriations bill.

BACKGROUND ON THE HOME BASE IOWA ACT

Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds launched the Home Base Iowa initiative in November of 2013 at the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum at Camp Dodge. Branstad and Reynolds named Congressman Leonard Boswell and Casey’s CEO Bob Myers the co-chairs of the initiative.

In January, Gov. Branstad made Home Base Iowa the centerpiece of his legislative plan by stating at his Condition of the State address, “This session, the centerpiece of my agenda is Home Base Iowa. It is a bipartisan jobs plan focusing on recruiting service members to Iowa and matching them with good, high paying careers. […] Our veterans have risked their lives defending our freedom.  To show our gratitude, let’s make Iowa the leader in respect, support and opportunity for veterans.”

In January, the Iowa Business Council announced a goal of hiring 2,500 veterans.  In March, Greene County became the first “Home Base Iowa Community.” To date, there have been over 50 Home Base Iowa Businesses statewide, with more to come.

In addition to the Home Base Iowa Act (Senate File 303), Branstad also signed Senate File 2352.

Senate File 2352 an Act relating to the additional homestead credit for certain disabled veterans and including effective date and applicability provisions.

For more information on Home Base Iowa, please visitwww.HomeBaseIowa.org.

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Governor Quinn Statement on Memorial Day PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Dave Blanchette   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 14:21

CHICAGO – In honor of Memorial Day, Governor Pat Quinn today issued the following statement, recognizing all servicemembers across our state and country:  

“This Memorial Day I encourage everyone to pause and honor our nation’s servicemembers and those who made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our freedom. 

“We owe a debt of gratitude to many brave Illinois men and women who have answered the call to serve. It’s important that we take the time to reflect on their sacrifice, which is one we can never repay.

“As Abraham Lincoln believed, we all have a duty to take care of those who have borne the battle. As Americans, we also have a duty to support our countless military families.

“I join the people of our state and country in recognizing and remembering those who stepped forward in the face of danger to defend our democracy. May they stand forever in our hearts.”

After marching in the annual Park Ridge Memorial Day Parade, the Governor will bring Challenger – a 26-year-old Bald Eagle – to U.S. Cellular Field. The eagle will be set free to soar over the stadium during the singing of the National Anthem. Over the Memorial Day Weekend, Governor Quinn also unveiled the “Portrait of a Soldier” memorial exhibit at the O’Hare Oasis and announced the summer exhibit schedule at the Tollway Oases in northern Illinois. The exhibit features a series of hand-drawn portraits of nearly all of the men and women who have died while serving our country since Sept. 11, 2001.

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