Guest Columnist

Loebsack: Tenure in Congress marked by flood recovery, veterans, broadband

Outgoing representative from Iowa's 2nd District was first elected in 2006

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talks with U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack as she tours of the flood damaged Czech Village neighborho
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talks with U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack as she tours of the flood damaged Czech Village neighborhood Monday, Sept. 8, 2008, in Cedar Rapids. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

As a child growing up in Sioux City, I never would have believed anyone if they told me I would have the opportunity to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives as the voice of Iowans. But these past 14 years have been an honor of a lifetime!

During my travels across the district and state, I have had the opportunity to hear from thousands of you, about your lives, your struggles, your triumphs and most importantly about what I could do to help. The Iowans I have met along the way are truly what I will miss most about serving in Congress.

Throughout my time in Congress, our state has faced its share of natural disasters that have required significant attention and a serious response from the federal government. One of the biggest challenges we faced was the Great Flood of 2008 and its aftermath. Over half of the damage from this flood occurred in the 2nd Congressional District. From Cedar Rapids to Iowa City and smaller towns along rivers and streams, there was unimaginable damage and destruction left in its path. Even though this flood happened years ago, its effects are still being felt today.

I am pleased to have worked with Iowa’s Congressional delegation to get the funding necessary to help folks get back on their feet and rebuild their homes and businesses. Additionally, we worked to prevent this scale of a disaster from ever happening again. For instance, Iowa City saw Dubuque Street, a main thoroughfare into the city, raised and reconfigured to prevent a repeat of the 2008 disaster.

And in Cedar Rapids, crews are building the long-awaited flood wall to protect the downtown area. There have also been additional mitigation efforts built across the state to protect homes, businesses and property from flooding in the future. I was proud to lead the fight that, with the help of federal assistance, led to the completion of these vital projects.

As a parent of two military children, I strongly believe that we must treat those who served with the same dedication that they gave to our nation. No veteran who needs care should be turned away. That is why I worked to get veterans the resources they need to get help with both physical and mental care. I proudly authored the Brandon Ketchum Never Again Act to ensure veterans who are suffering from invisible wounds, like PTSD, are never denied care from a VA Health Care System when they are reaching out for help. It continues to be a shame that each day, 20 veterans take their own lives. We cannot let this continue. Even one veteran who takes her own life is one too many.

And there are many other issues I have worked on over the years, including expanding broadband to more remote areas of our state, helping to ensure that all Iowans have access to affordable, quality health care, including mental health care, and last but not least, providing educational opportunities to all Iowans so they can achieve the American dream for themselves and their loved ones.

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As my time in office comes to an end, I never thought it would be wrapping up in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. I am hopeful that there is light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine beginning to be administered. But in the meantime, I urge all of you to continue to follow the CDC safety guidelines to protect yourself, your loved ones, and the larger community.

While I may not have been able to say thank you in person because of the pandemic, please know that everyone who called, emailed or stopped me at a convenience store or grocery store to share their thoughts, really made an impact on me and on my time in Congress. I could not have done my job without hearing directly from Iowans.

Again, thank you for your support over the years, it has been an honor to serve the people of Iowa.

Dave Loebsack served seven terms in the U.S. House.

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