Support For A Western Iowa Veterans Home In Glenwood Voiced At Town Hall

This graphic showing the number of veterans homes in Iowa and surrounding states was on display at the American Legion building during Sen. Ernst’s town hall meeting.

The hot topic of discussion at U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst’s town hall meeting in Glenwood Thursday was the need for a veterans home in western Iowa.

Several members of the audience encouraged Ernst, a military veteran herself, to support a proposal to open a veterans home on the campus of the Glenwood Resource Center, which is slated for closing in 2024.
The veterans home proposal for Glenwood has been discussed for months, even before Gov. Kim Reynolds announced last April that the GRC would be closing.  Iowa veterans are currently served by one veterans home – in Marshalltown – which is more than three hours away from most communities in western Iowa.

Dennis Kelly was among the veterans who spoke in favor of a Glenwood veterans home at the town hall meeting.

“I’m a retired veteran as you are and I understand there are 40,000 of us in western Iowa. We don’t have a V.A. home,” Kelly said.  “It kind of upsets me because being from Nebraska, they have four homes there and we have one with 50 percent higher population.

“If I was to need a veterans home, I can’t go across the river and use the one just 20 miles from here (in Bellevue).

Others in the audience noted that Glenwood’s location, near the intersection of Highway 34 and Interstate 29 with easy access to the Veterans Administration medical facility in Omaha, make it an ideal location for a veterans home.

Ernst conceded veterans care is an issue.  She offered praise for the facility in Marshalltown but said the state will ultimately decide the future of the Glenwood Resource Center.

“The one in Marshalltown is really a great example of what the state can do to assist veterans if they should decide to do something here on the western side of the state,” she said. “You’re right because we have a valuable resource that is sitting here and it should be used.

How we use it is to be determined by the state so I am not directly in that chain of decision making on what happens to the Glenwood Resource Center because it is a state-owned institution and the state will determine how it used.”

Ernst said veterans would be better served by a facility that managed at a state level, instead of by the federal government.

“I would say if you’re looking for the federal government to take on a home, I would say that it’s better that it be done at the state level. I think the less we have our federal government involved is probably better,” she said.  “Things get done much better by these states that have the veterans homes. There’s more direct control for those homes.”

Ernst noted that Clarinda, in the extreme southwest corner of the state, is also interested in having a veterans home.

Kelly asked Ernst to champion the proposal to bring a veterans home to the GRC.

“I know you’re not directly involved in the funding of that but federal money is involved,” he said. “It’s mostly a state issue but you’re really close with the governor. We’ve got to get that through the legislature this year.”

Ernst said she would share her support for an additional veterans homes with the governor and state legislators during her visit to the state capitol in Des Moines this week.

The Opinion-Tribune

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