Iowa Governor Chet Culver is in Iraq visiting soldiers today. The governor talked about that trip in a noon conference call with reporters.
Culver says he met with guardsmen and reservists from Iowa to learn about the things they are doing. “It was a wonderful day, I really had a chance to sit down and visit with a large number of Iowa soldiers,” Culver says.
Culver, a Democrat, used the call as an opportunity to push for legislation he says will benefit soldiers. He says the top priority is the “Trailing Spouse” legislation which would allow a spouse of those who are serving in Iraq or Afghanistan to receive education benefits to go to school.
Culver was asked about the timing of the trip with the legislative session underway and the state facing tough budget issues. Culver says he’s been wanting to come to Iraq for three years and got the opportunity and worked with Democratic leaders to ensure he would not miss any critically important issues while he was gone. Culver said he was only missing a couple of days, and they worked it out so that no bills would come to his desk while he was out of the country.
The governor said he could not disclose his exact location or his schedule because of security concerns — but said he was not in any danger. “I’m 100-percent confident that we will not have any security issues at all and I think this is the least that I can do as the Commander in Chief of the Iowa National Guard to come over and see our soldiers and our troops,” Culver says, “I just wish I could spend more time with them frankly, and I’m just privileged to have some time with them.
Culver said his trip was arranged by and paid for by the U.S. Department of Defense.