Governor Terry Branstad says he “has heard some concerns” about management of the Iowa Veterans Home, but the governor is expressing confidence in the leadership that’s in place.
“We’re very proud of the Iowa Veterans Home,” Branstad says. “They provide excellent services and in the various reviews whether it’s Inspections and Appeals at the state level or whether it’s the federal people that have reviewed it have said the services provided to veterans at the Veterans Home are truly outstanding.”
Critics accuse the home’s managers of “actively” trying to avoid providing treatment to veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. A group of more than 40 former employees wrote an open letter that was published in Iowa newspapers over the weekend, raising concerns about the home’s management. The chairman of the Iowa Senate Veterans Affairs Committee plans to hold a meeting next week to listen to concerns about the way veterans are treated at the home. Branstad is defending the home’s managers.
“I’m a veteran. I feel very strongly we want to make sure the veterans are treated well and we will carefully review the situation at the veterans home,” Branstad says. “…But also I would say Commandant Worley is on a first-name basis with just about every one of the residents and they work very hard to try to provide the best services to Iowa’s veterans.”
Iowa Veterans Home Commandant David Worley was appointed to the job by previous Governor Chet Culver and Branstad kept him on. The governor’s top two aides visited the Marshalltown facility in mid-April and Branstad chief of staff Jeff Boeyink says they were there to check on the level of care for veterans in the home.
“That’s our primary concern,” Boeyink says. “…There is absolutely no question in our minds or in any of the staffs’ mind that the veterans are receiving a high level quality of care.”
The governor’s chief of staff suggests this controversy is more about staff discontent than about how the veterans are being treated.
“Sometimes you have situations where personalities don’t mesh as well and you have some personnel issues that can result from that,” Boeyink says. “But that’s what (Iowa Department of Management director David (Roederer) and I do is try to help resolve those on behalf of the governor and the administration. I feel very confident we’ll be able to do that in the Veterans Home and have a leadership structure that works very well.”
Iowa’s “Old Soldiers Home” opened in 1887. It is now known as the Iowa Veterans Home and has more than 600 full-time residents.
Audio of the governor’s weekly news conference can be found here and the discussion about the Veterans Home starts at the six-minute mark.