It was one year ago on Memorial Day that Governor Terry Branstad signed the “Home Base Iowa” bill into law. The law creates several benefits for veterans in an effort to get them to live in Iowa once they leave the military.
Casey’s General Stores CEO Bob Myers, and former Iowa Congressman Leonard Boswell are the cochairs of the Home Base Iowa effort. Myers says a lot has happened since the program got going.
“We do know that at this point the number of hires is over 1,300,” Myer says. He says in the year since the signing of the legislation, Iowa moved from a “veterans unfriendly state, to a veterans friendly state.”
Myers says his company has hired veterans through the program and they have worked out very well. He says he is a member of the Iowa Business Council and its 20 members have pledged to hire 2,500 veterans over the course of the next five years.
“So, many of those 1,300 hires are part of the Iowa Business Council partnership, so we should all be proud of the fact that we’ve hired that many veterans,” according to Myers.
Myers and Boswell are both Vietnam veterans. Boswell says they understand what it means to veterans to be able to get a job and contribute to society once they get out of the military. “The whole idea behind this Home Base Iowa was the fact that 250,000 or plus men and women are being pushed out of the service. They are there, they are volunteers. The preponderance of those have been there 10 or more years, they are not qualified to retire or do anything like that,” Boswell says.
He says the program takes advantage of the skills and training the soldiers got in the military. “They’ve got a lot of talent, they’ve got a experience, they are motivated, so we extended out this program to bring them to Iowa,” Boswell says.
Boswell says the effort is not done.”If it stopped today it would be a success story, but it’s not going to stop, it’s got momentum,” Boswell says.
Myer says the cut back in U.S. forces continues, and while that may turnaround sometime, he doesn’t see that happening in the immediate future. “We still have a need if you will, to employ veterans who are leaving the services until that changes,” Myers says. “And it may not change, and it won’t change for the next couple of years. That’s what I see going on right now.”
Some of the provisions of the law eliminate state income taxes on military pensions for soldiers and their surviving spouses. It also makes it easier for soldiers to earn academic credit for their military training and experience, if they decide to seek a degree at an Iowa college or university. In addition, state boards are required to take into account a soldier’s military skills when the soldier applies for a professional license.
Those interested in the program can find out more information at: www.homebaseiowa.gov.