About 6400 more Iowans would be officially classified as "veterans" under legislation that’s cleared the Iowa Senate. Under current law, certain privileges are only extended to those who served in the regular military during a time of war. Senator Jack Kibbie, a Korean War veteran from Emmetsburg, says the bill redefines veterans as anyone who served at any time in the U.S. military — guard and reserve members, too. "Every veteran will have the same privileges whether it’s for a job or housing privileges or property tax exemptions," Kibbie says.
According to Kibbie, the move will be helpful to counties that’re finding it hard to find wartime veterans to serve on county veterans commissions. "The older guys are dying off every day…so it’s certainly a step in the right direction," Kibbie says.
Kibbie concedes the move has been controversial in the past as those who served during war time held fast to the idea that those who were in the military during so-called "peace time" weren’t really "veterans."
"Over time, they’ve gotten away from this ‘My buttons are shinier than yours because I was there for the big war,’ but I think now people recognize that a veteran is a veteran," he says.
Kibbie says with Guard and Reserve members getting called up "time and time again" for tours of duty, it makes no sense that certain veterans benefits, like property tax credits, should be denied those so-called "part-time" soldiers. The bill now goes to the House for consideration.