Governor Tom Vilsack has signed legislation that will provide up to 10-thousand dollars to Iowa Guard and Reserve soldiers who’re seriously injured while on active duty. The law comes as a result of a conversation Governor Vilsack had last year with Michelle Briggs in her husband Bobby’s hospital room after he was injured in Iraq. Michelle Briggs told Vilsack about a program in Minnesota that provided money to injured soldiers and their families to pay for travel to and from the hospital, child care costs or health-related costs not covered by insurance. The couple, who live in Salem which is just outside of Mount Pleasant, looked on as the governor signed a bill into law establishing the Iowa Veteran’s Appreciation Grants.
Bobby says when he was being treated in out-of-state hospitals, he saw first hand the financial stress some of his colleagues and their families were suffering. “Me and my wife (have) had a lot of community support and we’ve been blessed with friends,” Bobby says. “We’ve run into a lot of people out in Washington, D.C. and Minnesota who didn’t have the support that we had and we’ve seen what the lack of can do.”
Bobby says he’s pleased to have been the impetus for doing something for other soldiers and their families who find themselves in the same situation he was in. “They won’t have to go through the same stuff that we did,” Bobby says. Bobby was in and out of hospitals for eight months after being injured during a rocket attack on his base camp in Iraq. His wife says he’s “come a long way” and is doing “very well.”
Bobby suffered a traumatic brain injury and lost his right eye in a rocket propelled attack. His left side was paralyzed and is still weak, and Bobby sat in a wheelchair as he and his wife talked with reporters on the statehouse steps.
Vilsack made some remarks before he signed what he calls “Bobby and Michelle’s Law.” “Those who are injured, those who are hurt in action deserve the support of our community, our statewide community,” Vilsack said. The bill also provides five-thousand dollar, first-time home-buyer grants to Iowa Guard and Reserve soldiers returning from active duty as well as additional college scholarship money for high school graduates who sign up with the Guard.