Ragan Report

Help for Iowa veterans in need

Military service is a life-changing event for service members and their families. Our obligation to veterans continues long after they return home. The Veterans Trust Fund is there to help those in the greatest need.

The Legislature created the Veterans Trust Fund in 2003 and invested about $6 million in state dollars. To increase the balance in the Fund and help more veterans in need, the Legislature voted in 2008 for the Iowa Lottery to create patriotic-themed scratch and pull-tab games with profits going to the Fund. These instant lottery games bring in $2 million to $3 million annually. In addition, Iowans who file a tax return may designate a donation to the Veterans Trust Fund through an income tax check off.  As of September 30, the Fund had reached a balance of $18.1 million.

Interest earned on the Veterans Trust Fund has been helping veterans and their families, particularly those with limited incomes who have immediate needs, since December 2007. The Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs administers the Fund, authorizing requests for unemployment assistance due to service-related causes; health and dental care; medical equipment and prescription drugs; counseling and substance abuse treatment; home and vehicle repairs; and emergency housing.

To better protect our veterans from the long-term effects of brain injury, the Legislature voted this year to allow the Veterans Trust Fund to cover screening for service-related traumatic brain injury for those who do not qualify for any other government program, private health insurance or managed care organization.

During the 2013 session, we also established an account within the Veterans Trust Fund to defray college expenses for children of service members who died on active duty prior to 9/11 by transferring $129,000 from the War Orphans Educational Assistance Fund. The federal Post 9/11 GI Billcovers college tuition for children of military personnel killed in action since September 11, 2001.

To learn more about the Veterans Trust Fund or to apply for help, go to https://va.iowa.gov/benefits/index.html#Veterans_Trust_Fund.

This is a legislative column by Senator Amanda Ragan, representing Franklin, Butler and Cerro Gordo counties. For newsletters, photos and further information, go to www.senate.iowa.gov/senator/ragan.

To contact Senator Ragan during the week, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371. Otherwise she can be reached at home at 641-424-0874. E-mail her at amanda.ragan@legis.iowa.gov.

Senator Ragan is an Assistant Senate Majority Leader, chair of the Human Resources Committee and vice-chair of the Health & Human Services Budget Subcommittee. She also serves on the Appropriations, Natural Resources & Environment, Rules & Administration and Veterans Affairs committees.