JOHNSTON — Gov. Terry Branstad on Tuesday launched a new effort to connect veterans with jobs in Iowa, saying it could attract tens of thousands of people to the state.
Flanked by military veterans and business leaders at the Iowa Gold Star Museum in Johnston, Branstad unveiled a program called Home Base Iowa. He said the plan is to raise $6 million in private funds to use for national marketing efforts to reach veterans.
“We’ve got a tremendous group of employers and veterans organizations and state agencies,” the governor said. “We think this Home Base Iowa has tremendous potential. ... This is just the beginning.”
Former Congressman Leonard Boswell and Casey’s General Stores CEO Bob Myers will co-chair the initiative, which aims to help veterans with jobs, education and housing opportunities
“We in Iowa care about our men and women in uniform, not just while they serve,” said Boswell. “If they’ve got a job, so many problems just go away.”
Branstad did not say if any state dollars will be used, but said the state will continue to consider how to support the effort. Branstad said state officials will be reviewing whether they should pursue any legislation geared at veterans. He made those comments after Myers criticized the state for taxing military retirement pay.
“We’re going to be analyzing what the state can do,” Branstad said. “I want to provide leadership at the state level, working with the legislature to make changes.”
Iowa Workforce Development Director Theresa Wahlert said the agency was setting up a toll-free line for veterans to call for more information about the services and programs available. Interested current or retired service members can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-855-9HB-IOWA.
Efforts are also underway in other states to help veterans find employment through job placement and education programs.
States that offer tax credits to businesses that hire veterans include Delaware, Illinois and New Mexico. In Maryland earlier this year, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed legislation that speeds up the professional licensing process for veterans and military spouses who hold professional licenses in other states. The bill also requires Maryland’s public colleges and universities to develop policies to award academic credit for relevant military training and education