Military & Veterans News
Braley Pushes for Passage of Hire a Hero Act PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Kirsten Hartman   
Tuesday, 22 April 2014 14:48

Congressman calls on Congress to permanently extend the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors

Washington, D.C. – After the expiration of a tax credit that had helped put 1400 Iowa veterans back to work, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today wrote Speaker of the House John Boehner urging him to restore the tax credit and make it permanent.

“Fifty thousand veterans have been helped by this tax credit—1400 of them in Iowa alone—and it’s time we made it permanent,” Braley said. “Iowa employers have a strong commitment to hiring our highly-skilled veterans and this law would allow them to continue that commitment.”


Braley introduced the Hire a Hero Act in December of last year. It was designed to make permanent a temporary tax credit that could be used to hire unemployed veterans.

“Recently I met with veterans and businesses in Ames, Grinnell, and Iowa City. I saw firsthand the individuals and employers that benefited from the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors,” Braley wrote.

In 2011, Braley wrote the Combat Veterans Back to Work Act to provide employers with a payroll tax break if they hired recently returned veterans, including members of the Iowa National Guard. The bill was incorporated into new tax credits signed into law in November 2011. The Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors work opportunity tax credits provide anywhere between $2,400 and $9,600 to businesses who hire veterans.

These credits are available to businesses that hire unemployed or returning veterans and qualify for tax credits worth between $2,400 and $5,600. Businesses that hire unemployed veterans with a service-connected disability qualify for tax credits of between $4,800 and $9,600. There is no limit to how many veterans a business can hire, therefore no limit on how many tax credits they can receive.

The letter to Speaker Boehner is available below:



April 22, 2014

The Honorable John Boehner

Speaker of the House

United States House of Representatives

H- 232 The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515


Dear Mr. Speaker:

I’m writing to urge you to quickly bring up H.R. 3648, the Hire a Hero Act of 2013 for a vote in the House.

Recently I met with veterans and businesses in Ames, Grinnell, and Iowa City.  I saw firsthand the individuals and employers that benefited from the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors. Unfortunately, this tax credit expired at the end of 2013. Thanks to the credit, in 2013, the unemployment rate for Iowa veterans fell to 3.4 percent, which was about half the national average. However, there are still significant populations of veterans that are in need of good jobs. For example, in December 2013, the national unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans was 7.3 percent. This remains unacceptably high, and that’s why we must renew and extend this important tax credit that helps our nation’s veterans find good jobs.

On December 4th, 2013 I introduced H.R. 3648, the Hire a Hero Act of 2013. This bill would make the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors permanent. Over 50,000 veterans have been hired because of this tax credit nationally, 1400 of those in Iowa. These key figures illustrate the need to make the tax credit permanent, which provides a valuable incentive for businesses to hire veterans.

I urge you to swiftly bring up this bill for a vote in the House and I look forward to hearing back from you soon.



Bruce Braley

# # #

Operation Gratitude Announces National Initiatives PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Operation Gratitude   
Tuesday, 22 April 2014 13:53
Operation Gratitude Ramps Up Nationwide Effort in Support of Troops

Nonprofit Military Support Organization Launches Initiatives to Expand
Operation Gratitude has delivered 1 million care packages to U.S. troops, and now the nonprofit organization is ramping up its efforts, professionalizing its approach to managing a network of tens of thousands of volunteers, and launching a nationwide initiative to provide connections to home for the many thousands of men and women who have served and continue to serve globally.

"We're doubling down," said Operation Gratitude founder Carolyn Blashek. "We delivered our one millionth care package in December, and as we reflected upon that accomplishment, we concluded that this is an important turning point. It's an opportunity to take our efforts to the next level, and to thank even more troops and veterans for the sacrifices they make to protect freedom around the world."

The new initiative is highlighted by several significant actions designed to raise national awareness of  Operation Gratitude and transform it into an even more effective means by which a grateful nation can thank those who serve. Among these steps are the hiring of new professional team members, the creation of a national advisory board, creation of a national network of veterans, and a new outreach effort to reconnect the organization with volunteers and supporters who have helped Operation Gratitude in the past.

"This is going to be an exciting time for Operation Gratitude," said Chris Clark, the organization's new National Chief Development Officer. "Carolyn Blashek puts her heart and soul into letting our troops know they are remembered and appreciated by the American people. These new initiatives will nationalize that heart-and-soul effort, and help us better leverage the efforts of our vast network of volunteers to do the greatest amount of good for the troops."

"Chris is a key addition to our team," Blashek said of Clark, a seasoned nonprofit executive who over the past decade has raised more than $20 million on behalf of nonprofit organizations including the Special Olympics and the YMCA. "His experience and knowledge are immensely valuable, and his enthusiasm is contagious."

Clark said the new initiative is already getting under way.

"We're forming a national advisory board, which will help steer the organization's efforts, and we're seeking influential leaders who are passionate about supporting our troops," Clark said. "This group will have a tremendous impact on elevating Operation Gratitude's national profile."

Operation Gratitude is also establishing a network of veterans who have received assistance from the organization and wish to help it benefit those who follow them in military service. "This group will give us tremendous insight, and help us create programs that will have the strongest positive impact on our troops," Clark said.

Blashek added that the organization is reaching out to past volunteers and supporters, seeking to reconnect and renew individuals' commitments to support the troops.

"Our most powerful resource has always been, and always will be, our network of volunteers and generous supporters," Blashek said. "We're thanking them for their past support, and also encouraging them to make a new commitment to bring a slice of home to those who serve our country."

Operation Gratitude was founded in 2003 to send care  packages of donated items and say "Thank You" to the troops. The California-based organization has blossomed, sending approximately 150,000 care packages annually to deployed service members, their children at home, veterans, new recruits, wounded warriors, caregivers and first responders. Care packages typically include handmade items, messages of appreciation and $75 to $100 worth of donated goods. It costs about $15 to assemble and ship each package.

Blashek said it's always important, even during times of relative peace, to let those who serve -- and have served -- know they are not forgotten.

"There's a bit of a misconception out there that the need for our expression of gratitude is diminished, since hostilities are winding down on one front or another," Blashek said. "But that's an incorrect assumption. The need remains as much as ever. At any given time we have tens of thousands of men and women serving their country overseas, many of them in harm's way, and many more stepping forward every year, entering the military to dedicate the next several years of their lives to the defense of our nation."

She added: "We need to let them know we care about them, we respect them, and we appreciate the sacrifices they make, every day, to protect us here at home."

  About Operation Gratitude: The nonprofit organization ( annually sends 150,000-plus care packages filled with snacks, entertainment, hygiene and hand-made items, plus personal letters of appreciation, to veterans, new recruits, first responders, wounded warriors, care givers and to individually named U.S. service members deployed overseas. Its mission is to lift the spirits and meet the evolving needs of our active duty and veteran communities, and provide volunteer opportunities for all Americans to express their appreciation to members of our military. Each package contains donated product valued at $75-$100 and costs the organization $15 to assemble and ship. Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have shipped more than One Million Care Packages.

Lt. Governor Simon to join Sen. Durbin, Secretary of the Air Force for meeting on the future of Scott Air Force Base PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Ted Nelson   
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 09:23
BELLEVILLE – Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will join U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Deborah Lee James, at Scott Air Force Base for a meeting centered on the base’s future. The meeting has been initiated by Sen. Durbin, who chairs the Senate defense appropriation committee.
Last month Simon joined Durbin to meet with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh at Scott Air Force Base as part of Durbin’s continuing efforts to highlight Scott Air Force Base’s potential for growth.
Simon chairs Illinois’ Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee (IMBSEDC). Last week Simon was joined by Rep. Eddie Lee Jackson (D-East St. Louis) in Springfield to introduce House Bill 3939 to ease the transitions of military students moving in and out of Illinois schools. The legislation, which passed the House unanimously, will align Illinois with national standards on the treatment of military students, who may transfer schools several times more than their peers.
As chair of the IMBSEDC, Simon helps coordinate the state’s activities and communications relating to current and former military bases in Illinois. Simon recently announced plans for a statewide comprehensive economic impact analysis of active military bases in Illinois. Simon is committed to protecting the state’s military operations, installations, and the families of those who selflessly serve our state and country.
DATE: Tuesday, April 15
TIME: 12:15 p.m.
LOCATION: Scott Field Heritage Air Park, Directly across Siebert Road from Shiloh Gate (main entrance to base), 100 Scott Drive, Scott Air Force Base
NOTE: The meeting will be closed press with the media availability to follow.

Lt. Governor Simon applauds passage of military education reform legislation PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Ted Nelson   
Friday, 11 April 2014 14:51

Military student transition measure now moves to Illinois Senate

SPRINGFIELD – April 10, 2014. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon on Thursday applauded the Illinois House for the passage of legislation crafted by her office to ease the transitions of military students moving in and out of Illinois schools. Sponsored by Rep. Eddie Lee Jackson (D-East St. Louis), House Bill 3939 will align Illinois with national standards on the treatment of military students, many who transfer schools three times more often than their civilian peers.

“This legislation provides a chance for Illinois to strengthen our commitment to our brave military families,”  said Simon, chairperson of the Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee. “We want to make sure these students are prioritized and transition smoothly into their new classes. It’s right for our kids and  important for keeping defense jobs in the state of Illinois.”

In 2010, Illinois joined the Interstate Compact for Military Children and adopted the state’s first-ever law recognizing the unique educational challenges of military students. In the 45 other Compact states, military students enter the same grade level at their new schools, retain previously earned credit and are offered opportunities for extracurricular activities. Illinois’ law does not currently offer the same assurances. The Simon-backed legislation brings Illinois into alignment with other Compact states, providing protections military students deserve while also preserving local control. They include:

• Grade Level: Students must be allowed to continue their enrollment at grade level in the receiving state at the time of transition; subsequent evaluation to verify placement is allowed.

• Course & Program Placement: Schools shall initially honor course and program placement for military students at the time of transition, including Advanced Placement and ESL, provided that the courses are offered and space is available; subsequent evaluation to verify placement is allowed.

• Extracurricular Activities: Schools shall facilitate the opportunity for inclusion in sports and other activities to the extent that children are qualified and space is available as determined by the school principal.


The state of Illinois is home to approximately 10,000 military students, most of whom have at least one parent on active duty at major installations in North Chicago, the Quad Cities and Metro East. They may transfer schools up to nine times between kindergarten and high school graduation, a rate three times that of their civilian peers. During testimony in front of the Illinois House Elementary & Secondary committee, Simon noted the importance of ensuring these transitions are as seamless as possible, out of respect for their families’ sacrifices, the children’s learning opportunities and the economic future of our state. Read her testimony here.

Simon added that with potential federal defense spending reductions and potential base closures on the horizon, this measure also levels the playing field for military students and positions our bases for expansions, not drastic cuts.

“I am proud to have drafted and negotiated this bill as part of my role as chairperson of our state’s military base retention committee,” said Simon. “I want to commend Rep. Jackson and the Illinois House for their quick work to pass this important legislation. I hope the Senate and governor will also work quickly to make this the law of Illinois. House Bill 3939 sends a strong message to military families and our federal leaders that Illinois is a strong and supportive education state.”

During a series of listening posts hosted by the Simon-chaired Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee (IMBSEDC) held last year near Scott Air Force Base, Naval Station Great Lakes and the Rock Island Arsenal, families and military leadership consistently raised the issue of improving school transition.

As chair of the IMBSEDC, Simon helps coordinate the state’s activities and communications relating to current and former military bases in Illinois. A copy of the legislation can be found here.


Gov. Terry E. Branstad orders flags at half-staff to honor World War II pilot 1st Lt. Louis Longman PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Friday, 11 April 2014 08:29

After remaining missing for 70 years, Clinton native 1st Lt. Longman to return home Saturday to final resting place at Rock Island Arsenal National Cemetery


(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry Branstad has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in Iowa from 5 p.m. Friday, April 11, 2014, until 8 a.m. Monday, April 14, 2014, in honor of U.S. Army Air Corps 1st Lt. Louis L. Longman, formerly of Clinton, Iowa. A photo of 1st Lt. Longman may be found here.

Longman, a 26-year old Clinton, Iowa native serving with the 433rd Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group, 5th Air Force, U.S. Army Air Corps, was last seen April 16, 1944 as his unit returned from a B-25 bomber escort mission over Hollandia, New Guinea. A Lockheed P-38 “Lightning” fighter pilot, Longman was on the return leg of the mission in a P-38J aircraft when his unit encountered severe weather in the Markham Valley. Longman’s last reported location was in the vicinity of Bogadjim, New Guinea, as his formation broke up. The 5th Air Force lost 53 pilots and crewmen that day in what became known as “Black Sunday.”

Longman was officially declared deceased on Feb. 27, 1946, but his remains were never recovered. In February 2005, the Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command - Central Identification Laboratory (JPAC) received information of a possible aircraft crash site in Madang province, Papua New Guinea. In August 2007, human remains, as well as parts of a U.S. P-38J aircraft were recovered by a JPAC Investigation Team. Additional remains and physical evidence were also recovered in 2009 and 2010 by JPAC personnel.

In 2011, JPAC’s Research and Analysis Group concluded a historical association drawn from Missing Air Crew Report #4501 and the excavation site. The location of the excavated aircraft crash site and the wreckage reported by JPAC personnel, consistent with a Lockheed P-38J Lightning, support this historical association.

Louis Longman was born Jan. 23, 1918 in Murdock, Minn. to George F. and Ellen T. (Cleary) Longman. He graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Clinton, Iowa in 1936, and participated in a wide variety of school activities, including basketball, football (All-State honorable mention), yearbook sports editor, dramatics, and class officer positions.

Longman enlisted in the U.S. Army on Feb. 19, 1942, and transferred into the U.S. Army Air Corps in June. Longman completed his primary flight training at Cal-Aero Academy in Ontario, Calif., then completed Basic (Merced Army Airfield, Merced, Calif.) and Advanced (Williams Army Airfield, Mesa, Ariz.) Flight Training, receiving his pilot wings on April 12, 1943. He left the U.S. for duty in the Pacific theater in July 1943 and was assigned to the 433rd Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group, 5th Air Force, U.S. Army Air Corps.

Among his military awards and honors is the Air Medal (with numeral “2”), American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (w/4 Bronze Service Stars), World War II Victory Medal and Pilot Wings.

He was preceded in death by his parents. His four brothers and four sisters are also deceased.

A memorial service and interment will be held at the Rock Island Arsenal National Cemetery, 1 Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, Ill. on April 12, 2014 at 1 p.m., with full military honors provided by the Iowa National Guard. Please use the Moline entrance. The public is welcome to attend the memorial service.

The Governor's directive applies to all U.S. and state flags under the control of the state. H.R. 692, signed in 2007, requires federal government agencies in the state to comply with the Governor's Executive Order that the U.S. flag be flown at half-staff in the event of the death of a member of the Armed Forces.

Flags will be at half-staff on the State Capitol Building and on flag displays in the Capitol Complex, and upon all public buildings, grounds, and facilities throughout the state. Individuals, businesses, schools, municipalities, counties and other government subdivisions are encouraged to fly the flag at half-staff for the same length of time as a sign of respect.


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