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Iowa Senator Wants Answers About Veterans Programs

There seems to be a disconnect between what the Iowa Legislature has been doing for military veterans and the public’s awareness of it.

Lawmakers voted this year to eliminate state income taxes on military pensions as part of Governor Terry Branstad's Home Base Iowa initiative.

They also made it easier for employers to hire military veterans and for veterans to receive college credit for their military service.

During a recent forum in Burlington, though, veterans said they knew plenty of eligible people who were unaware of the benefits.  They even questioned whether the state wanted people to receive them.

State Senator Tom Courtney (D-Burlington) said that caught him off guard and frustrated him.

“We have worked pretty hard in the last 4-5 years especially for veterans to try to make this a better, better place for veterans to come and retire," said Courtney, "and if the word is not getting out, that is our fault and we are doing something wrong.”

The veterans also told Courtney and Congressman Dave Loebsack that even if they knew about the programs, sign-up was difficult.
Courtney told them he would be taking these concerns to Des Moines to find out how the programs are being promoted and what can be done to ease the sign-up process.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.