November 14, 2013



Johnston

A group of Jefferson representatives joined military and business leaders at Camp Dodge in Johnston Tuesday for the unveiling of Gov. Terry Brantad's Home Base Iowa, a far-reaching effort aimed at providing jobs in the state for returning veterans.

"Through their service, veterans have already proven they share the values we hold dear as Iowans - hard work, leadership and patriotism among others," Branstad said.

Branstad, the states's five-term Republican governor, said he thinks as many as "tens of thousands" of veterans can find employment opportunities in Iowa in the next five years.

Home Base Iowa will raise private funds to support national targeted marketing efforts to veterans, including in-person outreach and social media efforts. The goal: get them to return to Iowa or move here for career opportunities.

Former Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell and Casey's General Stores CEO Bob Myers, both military veterans, will co-chair Home Base Iowa.

"Probably every one of us knows someome who is coming out of service," Boswell said.

A White House report bears out Boswell's assessment.

"Each year the military separates between 240,000 and 360,000 service members, and as we draw down from the war in Afghanistan, the military is expected to separate a million service members over the next several years," a recent White House report states.

Myers said it is essential to remember the wars are active.

"We are still a nation at war," Myers said. "It is a protracted war and the largest war in our history."

Some members of the military have been deployed to hostile theaters as many as seven times, Myers said.

Home Base Iowa provides veterans the support they've earned back home, he said.

"This is our opportunity to do more than just say 'thank you for your service,'" Myers said.

Maj. Gen. Tim Orr, the Iowa National Guard's adjutant general (and a former teacher and coach in Grand Junction) said one key element of Home Base Iowa is transitioning trained veterans into licensed private-sector positions. The state will use a $50,000 non-government organization grant to study how to transfer military training into licenses for civilian trades and professional positions, Orr said.

According to The Washington Post, 10,000 military health-care workers or 10,000 military truck drivers who left the armed services last year often have to pass new tests and go through a fresh set of licensing hurdles in order to get a job as a civilian EMT or truck driver - even if they already have the required skills.

Following the official rollout of Home Base Iowa at the Iowa Gold Star Museum, James Andrew, a Jefferson agri-businessman and Vietnam War-era veteran, spoke with Branstad about the Greene County seat's preparedness to be a lead community with the state initiative.

Greene County expects to need 805 new employees in the next three to five years as Scranton Manufacturing, Greene County Medical Center and other organizations grow. A proposed Wild Rose casino on the northwest side of the community would provide more than 250 jobs.

"We anticipated this need," Andrew told officials from the Iowa National Guard.

State Rep. Chip Baltimore, R-Boone, said Jefferson is well-positioned to be a home base for returning veterans.

"Greene County really has a number of promising prospects out there," Baltimore said.

Branstad said the state soon would release plans for special designations for cities seeking to implement Home Base Iowa on a local level.

Greene County Development Corp. executive director Ken Paxton and Chad Schreck, executive director of the Midwest Partnership, spoke with state officials and business leaders gathered at Camp Dodge about the potential for Jefferson serving as a lead city with Home Base Iowa.