November 14, 2013

We have the sluggers on deck. Our bullpen is stocked with strong-armed hurlers.

Jefferson, as much as any city in the state, is prepared to make Gov. Terry Branstad's Home Base Iowa initiative a home run for our military veterans as they transition from the fields of battle to successful civilian lives.

First things first. Branstad should be applauded for the foresighted plan. It is, above all else, the right thing to do. The tragic irony is the unemployment rate nationally for veterans is higher than in the general population - an incongruence that's hard to reconcile.

On Tuesday morning, at Camp Dodge's Iowa Gold Star Museum, a contingent of representatives from Jefferson joined Branstad for the ceremonial unveiling of the first stages of Home Base Iowa.

The plan will raise private funds to support national targeted marketing efforts to veterans, including in-person outreach and social-media campaigns.

Branstad tells the Jefferson Herald that Home Base Iowa soon will include criteria for special designations for Iowa cities that dedicate resources and community support for our returning veterans by linking them with available jobs and life opportunities.

Jefferson leaders, led by Home State Bank president Sid Jones who identified the prospects for implementing the governor's plan on a local level, have made National Guard, Iowa Workforce Development and other key officials keenly aware of Jefferson's readiness to serve our veterans.

Bottom line: We are poised to be at the at the tip of the spear with Branstad's first-in-the-nation statewide jobs plan for veterans.

Over the next three to five years, Greene County expects to have a range of jobs available for 805 new employees. Scranton Manufacturing, Greene County Medical Center, Hy-Vee and the potential for a new Wild Rose casino are feeding the rapidly expanding employment pool.

A local task force, with an eye on the veterans' initiative, has been meeting for a month on strategies to fill these private-sector Greene County positions with talented men and women.

We agree with our governor. Our veterans should get the first look.

Returning veterans, whether they hail from Greene County or New York City or the West Coast, can count on Jefferson to do more than just cheer as they round third.

We'll have jobs waiting for them at home.