Best For Vets Interview: Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad

Best For Vets Interview: Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad

For years, companies have made special efforts to attract veterans so their businesses can benefit from the training and skills provided by the military.

Now states are doing the same.

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In 2014, Iowa established a host of tax and tuition breaks for vets. As part of its Home Base Iowa effort, the state also has rolled out a website to link vets with private-sector employers in the state who want to hire them.

"What we're doing in Iowa can be an example of what other states can do," Gov. Terry Branstad told Military Times. "We look at it as a win-win for the veteran, for the companies and also for the communities in which they locate."

Branstad signed the Home Base Iowa Act into law in May. The state also has taken measures to support disabled veterans and to encourage its counties and institutions of higher education to do more for vets.

Though eligibility varies, many veterans in Iowa now can expect to:

  • Pay no state income tax on their military pensions.
  • Receive a $5,000 grant toward the purchase of a home and also have the value of their homes assessed $1,850 less for tax purposes.
  • Attend public colleges and universities at the in-state tuition rate.
  • More easily obtain civilian licenses for skills learned in the military.

In addition to detailing such benefits, the program's online hub, www.homebaseiowa.org, includes tools to help vets land private-sector jobs. These include a customized job search that lists positions by related military occupational specialty codes, information on job fairs, guides to career paths and a single email address that vets can use to share their resumes with participating employers across the state.

Branstad said hundreds of companies have signed on to become Home Base Iowa Businesses, including the state's 20 largest. The effort already has landed jobs for more than 630 veterans, he added.

"We know there's going to be a continued reduction in military force over the next several years. We want to make Iowa the most attractive state for veterans," Branstad said.

Best For Vets Interview: Iowa National Guard Maj. Gen. Tim Orr

Best For Vets Interview: Iowa National Guard Maj. Gen. Tim Orr

Branstad, who identified Home Base Iowa as one of his top priorities for 2014, credited Iowa National Guard Maj. Gen. Tim Orr with helping conceive the effort.

"We're a state with a lot of jobs and not a lot of people," Orr said. "And so it was important for me to look out and to see if there was a way we could help our soldiers and airmen and all the service members that are looking for an opportunity as they leave the service."

Orr added that the skills veterans bring to the civilian world are prized by private-sector employers.

"Stay positive. Know that your service matters. The leadership, the experience — that's wanted in our communities."