Iowa veterans made their pitch for funding to state lawmakers Thursday — and with the tight state budget — didn’t many assurances they’ll get what they want. Gulf War veteran Richard Gobel of New Vienna talks about the top priorities.
"To fully fund Marshalltown Veterans home, to fund the Veterans Trust Fund which is used to provide money for veterans issues in the state of Iowa, we want to put a veterans director in every county." Gobel says while the money is scarce this year, he still hopes veterans will get a break.
Gobel says,"I feel that the veterans will be an exception because of the war we have on terror and all parts of the world and we have had a lot of national guard called to active duty. Democratic leaders in the House and Senate were in no mood to single out even veterans for special treatment, while the recession drives tax receipts down and the state budget looks to be several hundred million dollars short.
Senate Democrat leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs promises appropriate funding for the veterans home — but not for fully funding the veterans trust fund. Gronstal says it’s unlikely they’ll come up with that. "It’s gonna to be a very tough year and we are going to be saying no to a lot of people regardless of who they are."
House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, says veterans need to take a look at what the legislature did for them last year. "We need to ask veterans, and I know they want to build up their trust fund, but I just think it’s ridiculous that when we have veterans that’re coming back that need mental health services that can’t get them, that we should address some of those issue."
The chair of the Senate veterans affairs committee says they already have some 20 some bills in the hopper — including the tuition assistance program, the $5,000 homebuyers grant and the $10,000 severely injured soldiers grant.