Staff Editorials

Veterans home discrimination claims deserve investigation

The Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. (image via IVH's Web site)
The Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. (image via IVH's Web site)

New statistics raise troubling questions about admissions and discharge policies at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. State officials must immediately investigate and correct any policies that have led to discrimination against younger veterans in need of care.

While the Iowa Veterans Home is best known as a care center for older veterans, many of whom no longer can care for themselves, it also provides residential services for veterans of all ages who need additional help with debilitating post-traumatic stress disorders and brain injuries.

Veterans, their spouses and widowed spouses admitted to the Iowa Veterans Home pay for services on a sliding scale, based on each individual’s ability to pay.

But in analyzing admission data from the facility, an Iowa State University statistician found “statistically significant” deviations in admissions of these younger applicants.

The findings were released Tuesday by Bob Krause, president of the Veterans National Recovery Center, who also is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

Krause speculates that the apparent age bias can be traced back to finances. The federal government pays for the care of veterans who are 65 years or older, but the state is on the hook for a larger share of care expenses for younger veterans.

Krause argues that the Iowa Veterans Home admissions policies might have been a factor in several suicides of former military service members and that they could be in violation of federal law. Veterans Home Commandant Jodi Tymeson said the home’s policies comply with federal and state guidelines.

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This is not the first time the Iowa Veterans Home has come under scrutiny. Multiple complaints ranging from sexual harassment to involuntary resident discharges prompted a four-year state ombudsman investigation ending with a report in December that laid many of the problems at the feet of former leadership.

That earlier investigation found many guidelines had been ignored or applied in ways that were not in the best interest of the home’s veteran residents.

An external review of the current complaint not only would confirm compliance with the law, but would determine whether policies are shortchanging Iowa’s younger veterans.

Iowa’s veteran population deserves a full investigation and clear answers.

• Gazette editorials reflect the consensus opinion of The Gazette Editorial Board. Share your comments and ideas with us: (319) 398-8469; editorial@thegazette.com

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