In our view, the signature accomplishment of this year's Iowa legislative session was a package of measures designed to make our state more attractive to veterans as they transition from military service to civilian life.
Lawmakers passed incentives related to taxes, fees, education, the purchase of homes, training for jobs and occupational licensing.
As Journal business editor Dave Dreeszen reported in a story about Home Base Iowa on May 11, the nation is in the midst of what will be, over the next several years, one of the largest drawdowns of active-duty forces in American history.
The idea of Home Base Iowa is to tap into the attributes and the diverse wealth of skills embodied by these men and women.
In his January Condition of the State message, Gov. Terry Branstad made Home Base Iowa a priority. Across the state, in the public and private sectors, the goal resonated. Legislative support was strong and bipartisan. Members of the Iowa Business Council - a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization made up of employers, state universities and the Iowa Bankers Association - committed to a goal of hiring 2,500 veterans over the next five years. (In a guest column in today's Opinion section, Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham discusses how Home Base Iowa will help meet the state's workforce needs.)
The Home Base Iowa Foundation, appointed by Branstad, will work to raise $6 million in private funds within the next five years to support a nationwide marketing effort. The foundation is chaired by former U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell and Casey's General Store Inc. CEO Robert Myers.
In other words, in just a few months, Iowans within and outside government have joined to identify an opportunity, define a strategy, steward necessary legislation to passage, create a private fundraising vehicle and embark on a national information campaign.
On Memorial Day weekend, when we as Americans remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country, it seems appropriate to commend Branstad and his administration, Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature and private leaders in business and industry for embracing the commitment to make this state America's most welcoming state for returning servicemen and women.
Home Base Iowa not only makes economic sense for the state, but the program speaks to the duty we as a nation have to do our best for those who have given their best while serving the country in uniform.
From any perspective, it's a winner. In fact, its potential is dramatic.
Through the program, we look forward to the contributions transitioning veterans will make to the future of Iowa.
- Sioux City Journal. May 25, 2014.