Governor Terry Branstad signed a bill in May designed to provide more benefits for Iowa's military veterans. At the same time, companies and communities have pledged to make Iowa veteran friendly by offering incentives to live and work here. It's hoped that those who have completed their service or have left the military as the result of downsizing by the Department of the Defense will find a new "home base" : Iowa.
The bill does away with Iowa taxes on military pensions. It provides property tax relief, credit for work experience at several colleges and universities and gives veterans preferred status for a number of jobs.
More information about who qualifies and how to enroll can be found here.
Tim Mallot of Tipton is retired and is happy to have the tax exemption on his pension, but he says "what took them so long? Iowa was ten years behind other states in providing these benefits." He says he and his wife had thought about leaving the state but will probably stay now.
35- year old Kaanan Mackey of Grinnell and her five children will get a property tax exemption of around three thousand dollars. Her husband Matthew was killed in an accident while on active duty.
68- year old Ed McDermott of Sabula is a Vietnam Vet. His exposure to Agent Orange and related health problems qualifies him as 100 percent disabled. He works for the VA Commission in Jackson County and says as part of Home Base Iowa , he'd like to see money for counseling and other services provided for those suffering from PTSD.
24 -year old Matthew Barr of Ames lived in his car until he joined the military. When he returned from his tour of duty in Iraq he was homeless again, but in a different way because he and his wife were forced to live with his parents because they couldn't find housing and he had a hard time finding a job. They have a place to live now and he's enrolled at Iowa State.
As of last week, 210 Home Base Iowa hires were recorded by the Iowa Business Council, which represents the state's largest businesses. This does not include what progress may have been made in the private sector. It's assumed that most of these employees are Iowans but some may have relocated here because of the new program.