Governor Chet Culver is making changes at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. Culver announced at noon today that he will not reappoint the home’s top manager — Commandant Dan Steen — to another four-year term.
Phil Roeder, a spokesman for the governor, says Steen’s job performance isn’t the issue. "I don’t think there’s any one thing that went wrong," Roeder says. "I think this is just part of taking a look at our overall delivery of services to veterans in this state and making sure that they’re being done as well as they can be and a change at the Veterans Home is going to be one part of that."
Under current law, the top administrator at the Veterans Home must be a veteran and have some background in nursing, but Roeder says the governor and legislators may change those requirements to ensure someone who is a professional nursing home administrator holds the top job.
"It’s the largest nursing home facility in the state of Iowa," Roeder says. "It’s one of the largest veterans homes in the entire country and so we’re right now contemplating different changes to do a better job of delivering the care and one might be to make sure that a person with those credentials is a part of this reorganization."
The Iowa Soldiers Home was founded in 1887 for civil war veterans. Today it’s called the Iowa Veterans Home with over 720 residents and more than 1,000 staff members. Critics have complained about bonuses paid recently to some staffers, but Roeder refuses to say getting rid of the commandant had anything to do with those complaints.
"Given that the term was up and given that we were looking at reorganizing how the services were delivered, the timing made this the right time to do this," Roeder says.
The commandant’s last day at the Veterans Home will be May 1st.