Congressmen join Veterans Lobby Day at Iowa Capitol

Lawmakers discuss better treatment of military veterans, push for more veteran support

A pair of Iowa’s U.S. House members were at the State Capitol Wednesday talking about better treatment of military veterans.

First District Rep. Bruce Braley, a Waterloo Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, launched Veterans and Military Families for Braley.

Braley said his father, who enlisted in the Marine Corps when he was 17, “taught me about service to country, and that’s why I work hard to ensure that when our veterans return home, someone is fighting for them to help create jobs, expand educational opportunities, and ensure they get all the benefits they’ve earned.”

Among his efforts are a law to give tax credits to businesses that hire unemployed veterans, securing combat pay for Iowa National Guard troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and expanding a program to help injured veterans secure disability-accessible housing.

According to the Braley campaign, more than 1,000 Iowa veterans and family members of veterans from all 99 counties are part of the veterans supporting him.

Joining Braley for the announcement was Todd Eipperle of Marshalltown, a registered Republican and co-chair of the group, and a number of Iowa veterans.

Fourth District U.S. Rep. Steve King also was at the Statehouse on Veterans Lobby Day and said he hopes that veterans’ issues don’t become a divisive issue in this fall’s elections.

“I haven’t thought about it becoming a wedge issue,” the Kiron Republican said. “I would just like to think that everybody who takes an oath to uphold the Constitution supports our veterans.”

He prefers to work directly with veterans rather than “make a big public issue of out of it.”

King went on to defend his votes against “a couple of bills that were relatively popular … because it didn’t treat our veterans well enough.” In particular, he thought Congress was reneging on military retirees’ benefits.

“We need to keep our bargain with them,” he said. “If you recruit people and tell them this is going to be your retirement package if you do 20 years, well, when they get to 17 you can’t tell them we’re going to change it.”

He advised visitors to the Iowa Capitol to go to the first floor gallery of pictures of Iowans who have died in war since Sept. 11, 2001.

“That does hit home,” he said.

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