The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

November 13, 2013

Providing the help veterans need

By Rita Hart
Special to the Herald

---- — I attended the Veteran’s Day ceremony at Calamus-Wheatland School this week as we joined the nation in honoring all American veterans, living and dead, for their service to our country. Dozens of veterans were in attendance representing nearly all the military branches.

They were recognized for their sacrifices and thanked for their service. They can’t be thanked enough.

Every soldier has a story, and I was honored to hear a few of those stories after the event. Perhaps the most important thing any of us can do to truly honor our veterans is to listen to their stories. These heroes are our family members, neighbors and friends, and we are very proud of them all. They deserve recognition every day of the year, not just on a day in November.

Those veterans and the stories they shared with me underscore the importance of the work we do at the state level to support those who have served. I am a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs committee, and our task is to make sure our veterans receive the services they need and the respect they deserve here in Iowa. The Veterans Trust Fund is one way we help those in greatest need.

Interest earned on the Veterans Trust Fund helps veterans and their families — particularly those with limited incomes who have immediate needs. The Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs administers the fund, authorizing requests for unemployment assistance due to service-related causes; health and dental care; medical equipment and prescription drugs; counseling and substance abuse treatment; home and vehicle repairs; and emergency housing.

To better protect our veterans from the long-term effects of brain injury, I voted this year to allow the Veterans Trust Fund to cover screening for service-related traumatic brain injury for those who don’t qualify for any other government program, private health insurance or managed care organization.

During the 2013 session, we also established an account within the Veterans Trust Fund to defray college expenses for children of service members who died on active duty prior to Sept. 11 by transferring $129,000 from the War Orphans Educational Assistance Fund. The federal Post 9/11 GI Bill covers college tuition for children of military personnel killed in action since Sept. 11, 2001.

To learn more about the Veterans Trust Fund or to apply for help, go to https://va.iowa.gov/benefits.

If you’d like to contact me, please call (563) 210-1252 or e-mail rita.hart@legis.iowa.gov. At www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/hart, you can sign up for my newsletter, connect with me on Facebook and more.

Senator Rita Hart represents Clinton County and northern Scott County in the Iowa Senate.