Military & Veterans News
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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Governor Quinn Honors Fallen Servicemembers and Military Families During Memorial Day Weekend PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Katie Hickey   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 14:18

“Portrait of a Soldier” Memorial Exhibit on Display at Illinois Tollway Oases through Independence Day  

SCHILLER PARK – Governor Pat Quinn today commemorated Memorial Day by unveiling the “Portrait of a Soldier” memorial exhibit at the O’Hare Oasis and announced the summer exhibit schedule at Tollway Oases in northern Illinois. The exhibit features a series of hand-drawn portraits of nearly all of the more than 300 Illinois men and women who have died while serving our country since Sept. 11, 2001.  

“The ‘Portrait of a Solider’ memorial exhibit helps people across Illinois learn about true heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms,” Governor Quinn said. “From Memorial Day to Independence Day, I encourage everyone to take time to visit the display and honor our brave servicemembers who will forever remain in our hearts and minds.”  

The exhibit is on display at the O’Hare Oasis until Sunday, June 1, and then will travel to the Hinsdale Oasis, where it will be displayed through Sunday, June 8. The exhibit will be on display at the Chicago Southland Lincoln, DeKalb, Belvidere and Lake Forest oases through theJuly 4 weekend.  

“By displaying the portraits of these dedicated men and women, we hope to honor the sacrifice they made while serving our country,” Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said. “We ask our Tollway customers to consider pausing in their travels to view this exhibit and help us commemorate the courage of these brave Americans.”  

Governor Quinn established the “Portrait of a Soldier” memorial exhibit in 2004 to honor fallen Illinois servicemembers when artist Cameron Schilling of Mattoon drew the first portrait of Army Spc. Charles Neeley, also of Mattoon, after he was killed in Iraq. Schilling, a student at Eastern Illinois University at the time, committed to drawing a portrait of every servicemember who has fallen during the Global War on Terror.  

“This powerful exhibit presented on this solemn day helps us remember the ultimate price these men and women have paid to ensure our safety,” Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Director Erica Borggren said. “It also reminds us of the duty we have to honor the fallen and support their families.”  

Governor Quinn has made commitment to veterans, servicemembers and their families a top priority throughout his career. He led the Illinois Warrior Assistance Program that helps veterans transition back to their daily lives and the Welcome Home Heroes program which helps support Illinois service members seeking homeownership. As Lieutenant Governor, Governor Quinn championed the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund Act, which established a fund to provide grants to families of Illinois National Guard members and Illinois residents serving in the U.S. Armed Forces Reserve components, who are called to active duty. These grants help servicemembers and their families with the costs of food, housing, utilities and other expenses when the wage-earner has left civilian employment for active military duty. The fund has distributed more than $15.1 million to 29,625 Illinois military families to assist with the financial burden at home.

Portrait of a Soldier Memorial Exhibit Schedule

Saturday, May 24 – Sunday, June 1              O’Hare Oasis (Schiller Park), Tri-State Tollway (I-294)

Monday, June 2 – Sunday, June 8                 Hinsdale Oasis, Tri-State Tollway (I-294)

Monday, June 9 – Sunday, June 15               Chicago Southland Lincoln Oasis (South Holland) Tri-State Tollway (I-294/80)

Monday, June 16 – Sunday, June 22             DeKalb Oasis, Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88)

Monday, June 23 – Sunday, June 29             Belvidere Oasis, Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90)

Monday, June 30 – Sunday, July 6                 Lake Forest Oasis, Tri-State Tollway (I-94)

NOTE: Beginning June 2, the exhibit will open at noon on Mondays at each oasis and for the rest of the week during the dates listed above, will remain open 24/7.

For more information on the “Portrait of a Solder” exhibit or to view the portraits online, please visit www.OperationHomefront.org.

Governor Quinn Honors Military Families with Welcome Home Heroes Program

Visits Cities Across Illinois to Promote Program and Continues Push to Protect Critical Veterans Services from Budget Cuts

WINNEBAGO – As part of his agenda to support our veterans in honor of Memorial Day, Governor Pat Quinn today will visit cities across Illinois to discuss his Welcome Home Heroes program. As part of this program, veterans and their families can take advantage of the $10,000 in cash down-payment assistance that is available. Visiting Rockford, Chicago, Rock Island and Decatur, the Governor is continuing his push for a responsible budget that adequately funds critical veterans services.  

“It is Job One on the homefront to take care of our veterans and military families for all of the sacrifices they make,” Governor Quinn said. “With programs like Welcome Homes Heroes, Illinois leads the nation in serving those who have served us. I will continue to fight to ensure we protect our essential veterans services for those who have sacrificed so much.”

In addition to the down-payment assistance, the program provides a 30-year fixed rate mortgage with an affordable interest rate (currently 3.875 percent); and a mortgage tax credit worth up to $20,000 over the life of the loan to reduce federal income tax liability. Since the program’s launch three years ago, 1,300 Illinois veterans, active military personnel, reservists and Illinois National Guard members have accessed more than $165 million to buy their homes.

The Governor today will visit several veterans and their families today who have achieved their goal of homeownership through the Welcome Home Heroes program:

  • ·         Dr. Eric Luke, and his wife, Andrea, had been renting in the Rockford area since 2009 while taking care of Dr. Luke’s father who was sick. Luke served four years in Korea and reached Staff Sergeant in the Iraq War and now is currently a chiropractor. They’re excited to be in the new house and Welcome Home Heroes made it possible. “We did save our dollars. We’re savers by nature,” Dr. Luke said. “However, when you factor in student loans from medical school and things we might potentially need to fix up in our new house, we realized that the assistance from Welcome Home Heroes would be just the product to put us over the top. We really appreciate the assistance.”
  • ·         Billy Lynn served in the Marines from 2000-2004 and achieved the rank of Sergeant. After becoming a Marine he and his unit were deployed in Australia. He was only there for six months when the September 11, 2001 attacks occurred. His unit was deployed to Afghanistan and was one of the very first units to arrive there. He purchased his home in Evergreen Park in October of 2012. “I wouldn’t have been able to buy my house without Welcome Home Heroes,” Sgt. Lynn said. “The program is great. The assistance ($10,000) really made my home purchase a possibility for me.”
  • ·         Joshua Thompson is an IT Tech with the Rock Island Arsenal and is also currently in the Army National Guard as an Active Reserve Soldier. He served in Afghanistan from 2010 – 2011 as a Specialist. After coming home from service overseas in 2011, Josh rented in the Quad Cities area as that is where he is from. He purchased his home in October of 2013 after he learned of the Welcome Home Heroesprogram from co-workers who are other military personnel at the Rock Island Arsenal. “I had high standards for the home I wanted to buy. There were a lot of things I was looking for and if it weren’t for the assistance by the Welcome Home Heroes program, I would not have been able to purchase this home,” Thompson said. “Mary at U.S. Bank explained the program to me and helped me through the process. Overall it’s been fantastic!”
  • ·         Paul Joliff served in the U.S. Army from 1986 – 1990, where he achieved the rank of an E4 Specialist and worked as a mechanic and crew chief on cobra helicopters. He then served in the National Guard from 1990 – 1994. Paul and his two children recently closed on their home on May 14th in Forsyth. “Welcome Home Heroes was huge for us,” Joliff said. “The assistance allowed me not only to get a bigger house, it also allowed me to stay in Forsyth. My kids are in the school there and I love the school district. Getting a bigger home in a great school district was what I really wanted and Welcome Home Heroeshelped make that happen.”

Welcome Home Heroes is one of a number of affordable mortgage programs the Governor has launched. In total, Governor Quinn has targeted $20 million total in state capital Illinois Jobs Now! funds to the Welcome Home Heroes program to help increase affordable homeownership opportunities for military veterans and their families.

Additionally, Welcome Home Heroes and other Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) programs help benefit the overall economy. According to the Illinois Association of Realtors (IAR), every home sold generates two jobs and $60,000 in ripple effects to the overall economy. This impact has already been realized statewide with other IHDA programs. In 2013, 3,000 families purchased homes through one of IHDA’s programs, generating 1,500 jobs and infusing $70 million into Illinois’ economy. Projections show that even just a 15 percent increase in 2014 could generate an additional 1,725 jobs and infuse another $10 million into Illinois’ economy.

“Under Governor Quinn’s leadership, Welcome Home Heroescontinues to eliminate barriers to homeownership that many Illinois military families face by providing a financial package that is one of the most substantial in the nation,” IHDA Executive Director Mary R. Kenney said. “As the state’s housing finance agency, we are proud to offer a program that helps military homeowners and improves local real estate markets across Illinois.”

IHDA’s mortgages have lower credit score requirements, provide cash for down payment assistance and require homeownership counseling. A list of lenders is available at www.ihda.org.

For more information about the Governor’s programs for our veterans, visit OperationHomefront.org or call the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs at (217) 782-6641 or (312) 814-2460.

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Loebsack Statement on VA Management Accountability Act PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Vonnie Hampel   
Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:15

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today after the House of Representatives voted on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Management Accountability Act of 2014.

“The men and women who volunteered to serve and defend our nation deserve only the best care when they return from service. Like many others, I have been outraged at the reports of alleged preventable deaths and subsequent cover ups at various VA health centers across the country. While the accountability included in the legislation that passed today is important, there are additional steps that the VA should take to address this problem. They include: hiring more medical specialists to better address the increasing influx of veterans entering the VA health system; reauthorizing the Health Professional Scholarship Program; strengthening and increasing partnerships with community hospitals and university hospitals to take advantage of all medical personnel in a community; and broadening telemedicine pilot programs that allow veterans access to care from the comfort of their home.

“As a parent of military children these recent events are 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.”

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Loebsack Welcomes Eastern Iowa Honor Flight to Washington PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Vonnie Hampel   
Thursday, 22 May 2014 08:33

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack today welcomed the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight to the National World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington. Loebsack presented the members of the Honor Flight with copies of the Congressional Record statement he submitted in recognition of their service, as well as a pocket Constitution. The Eastern Iowa Honor Flight brings World War II, Korean and Vietnam War veterans to Washington to visit our nation’s capital and Memorials built in their honor.

“I look forward to welcoming each Honor Flight to our nation’s capital so they can see the memorials that were built in their honor. Being able to welcome these veterans today was especially meaningful,” said Loebsack. “We cannot thank these veterans enough for their service to our nation. I was honored to present them with a copy of the statement I made for the official Congressional Record to recognize their service, as well as a pocket Constitution.”

The Honor Flights are all fully paid for, and the veterans are typically accompanied by volunteers who donate their time to ensure that the veterans have a safe trip. This group included 84 veterans. The Eastern Iowa Honor Flight left from the Eastern Iowa Airport this morning and will return tonight.

Loebsack is an avid supporter of our veterans. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, he has worked to improve care and benefits for our servicemembers 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 servicemembers wounded in combat.

 
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