Veteran’s Day is November 11. As older Iowans remember, it was originally called Armistice Day. It celebrated the end of World War I. The peace treaty for that war was not signed until June 28, 1919. However, a cessation of fighting, or armistice, began seven months earlier at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918. In other words, November 11. In 1938, Congress officially made Armistice Day a national holiday, to honor the veterans who had fought in the World War, the “war to end all wars.” It was, unfortunately, not the last war. After World War II, veterans asked Congress to change the name to Veterans Day, rather than Armistice Day, and Congress did so in 1954. Henceforth, the day would honor all veterans.
One day, however, can not adequately repay the 267,500 veterans living in Iowa. Over the years, the Legislature has enacted a number of programs to help those who have served our country. This past session was no exception. The Injured Veterans Grant Program was created in 2006 and additional funding was provided this year. The program provides grants up to $10,000 to veterans injured while in a combat zone. The grants are provided in increments of $2,500 every 30 days until reaching $10,000 while the injured veteran is hospitalized or receiving medical care or rehabilitation services authorized by the military.
The Veterans Homeowners Assistance Program provides matching grants of up to $5,000 to veterans to help provide down payments and closing costs to home purchases. The grants are for veterans (or surviving spouses) who have served on active duty in the armed forces since September 11, 2001. We also took care of some unfinished business, as it relates to veterans of the Vietnam Conflict. A Vietnam Conflict bonus was awarded, but only to those who had served until 1973. The recognized dates of the Vietnam Conflict are February 28, 1961, through May 7, 1975. Those serving beyond 1973 did not receive a bonus payment for dates served. They will now, if they apply through the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs.
A new outreach program has been started to insure veterans receive the counseling services they need. The Department of Veterans Affairs is to coordinate efforts to provide assistance to veterans and their families, to reduce the incidence of alcohol and chemical dependency and suicide among veterans, and to make mental health services available to veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs is to develop a plan, to provide regional coverage for Veterans Affairs services. The plan is required to foster the development of county veteran affairs offices, yet ensure that the state provides coverage where county services are not readily available.
Profits from the sale of veteran’s license plates will now go to the Veterans Affairs Commission to benefit veterans. In addition, a new license plate, displaying the Gold Star emblem, will be available to a surviving spouse, parent or child of a deceased member of the armed forces, who died while on active duty. The Iowa Veteran’s Home, in Marshalltown, continues to receive funding from the state of Iowa, as does the new state-owned Veterans Cemetery in Iowa, which is scheduled to open next spring.
Today, November 5th, the Department of Defense and the National Guard Bureau, located in Washington, D.C., have announced that the Iowa Army National Guard’s 1133rd Transportation Company has been alerted for possible federal active duty, that could commence in late 2008. This action is part of Operations Noble Eagle, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom, and the global war on terrorism.
The 1133rd Transportation Company is based in Mason City, with Detachment 1 located in Fort Dodge. The unit is a medium truck company that transports equipment and supplies in a theater of operations. The 1133rd Transportation Company previously deployed in 2003-2004, for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The soldiers may be ordered to active duty for one year that can be extended for an additional year by the Secretary of the Army. The actual mobilization date and duty location have not been received. Please keep the members of the 133rd and their families in our thoughts and prayers.