Tom Courtney Holding Public Meetings This Week On Education Reform

Everyone welcome at education reform discussions

How can we help our students do even better? Which of Gov. Branstad’s education reform ideas will help our local schools—and which might hurt? I want to know what you think.

I’m organizing public meetings on these issues for parents, teachers, students and all interested citizens. Everyone is welcome to attend, regardless of where you live.

If you can’t make it, I still want to hear your ideas and concerns. Contact me at 319-759-5334 or Thanks for taking the time to help me better serve you.

Danville: November 15 from 6 to 7 PM in the Danville High School chorus room, 419 South Main Street.

West Liberty: November 16 from 5:30 to 6:30 PM in the meeting room of the West Liberty Public Library, 400 North Spencer Street.

Muscatine: November 17 from 6:30 to 7:30 PM in Strahan Hall room 27 at Muscatine Community College, 152 Colorado Street.

Honoring our veterans, service members

Over the past year, Iowa has experienced the largest overseas deployment of National Guard troops since World War II. It’s a powerful reminder this November—the month of Veterans Day—of the sacrifice that thousands of our fellow Iowans are making.

Iowa is a national leader in supporting our veterans, soldiers and their families. The Iowa Veterans Council called a recent legislative session the best for Iowa veterans and service members since the 1950s. And last year, Iowa became the first state to approve 10 measures that the U.S. Department of Defense says would do most to improve the quality-of-life for our military.

We built on those successes this year by:

Eliminating state taxes on military pay: We made military pay exempt from state taxes for soldiers on active duty in the reserves or National Guard. This tax exemption is retroactive to January 1 of this year.

Preventing “stolen valor”: It is now a serious misdemeanor to impersonate a decorated military veteran with the intent to receive monetary gain, such as a job, promotion or political office.

Protecting veterans from unnecessary fees: Any company or individual that charges a fee to help veterans file benefit appeals is now required to disclose that these services are provided for free at local veterans’ affairs offices.

Helping soldiers go to college: We protected funding for the National Guard Education Assistance program, which helps our soldiers attend Iowa colleges and universities.

Divesting from Iran: We voted to divest public funds from companies doing business in Iran to better prevent Iowa tax dollars from being invested in a country that supports the enemies of the United States.

Establishing Purple Heart Day: August 7 is now officially “Purple Heart Day” in Iowa. State and local governments—and ALL Iowans—are encouraged to honor our military men and women who were killed or wounded in enemy action.

Expanding Injured Veterans Grants: A veteran who previously received an injured veteran’s grant may now be eligible for an additional grant for a subsequent serious injury received in the line of duty.

Protecting posthumously conceived children: When a service member is deployed to a war zone or when a person becomes seriously ill, injuries or treatments could prevent that person from conceiving a child. That’s why a person’s genetic material is sometimes saved by military families for later use. We ensured that children who are conceived using the genetic material of a parent who has died will be considered a legitimate child.

Creating new veterans’ license plates: We established new Iowa license plates honoring recipients of the Combat Infantryman Badge, Combat Action Badge, Combat Action Ribbon, Air Force Combat Action Medal and Combat Medical Badge. Proceeds benefit the Iowa Commission on Veterans Affairs.

These are just a few small ways we are showing appreciation and saying “thank you” to those who’ve served and sacrificed.

AmeriCorps grant gives veterans “green” jobs skills

The Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service has awarded a federal AmeriCorps grant to a new Iowa Department of Natural Resources program that will help put veterans to work. The Iowa Green Veterans AmeriCorps program will help returning veterans in their transition to civilian life while learning new job skills.

From October through March, veterans will learn energy efficiency-related job skills and assist rural, low-income and elderly Iowans in making energy improvements in their homes. From March through September, they’ll help with disaster recovery and stewardship activities in Iowa’s state parks. The goal is to connect military veterans with meaningful employment opportunities in the green jobs economy and natural resources.

Full-time AmeriCorps members receive a modest living allowance and an education award of up to $5,550, which can be used for higher education tuition or loan repayment after completing a full year of service. The DNR’s Veterans Program was awarded $290,000 to support the hiring of 20 veterans for 2011-2012.

To learn more, go here.

Bringing workforce services directly to veterans

The Iowa National Guard and Iowa Workforce Development have partnered to bring workforce services directly to veterans with workforce access points at Iowa armories.

This effort will make career-enhancing resources and job prospects more accessible for our soldiers returning from active duty. Maj. Gen. Tim Orr, Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard, says that more than 25 percent of those returning from combat in Afghanistan are seeking full-time employment.

The National Guard partnership will add 42 new access point locations for veterans. Services include job search and résumé assistance, unemployment claims and labor market information, educational and veteran specific resources, access to workforce specialists via live chat and more.

Contact Tom

Iowa Statehouse
Des Moines, IA 50319

2609 Clearview Drive
Burlington, IA 52601

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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