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Honoring our veterans, service members this Memorial Day



This news story was published on May 20, 2011.
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Iowa is currently experiencing its largest deployment since World War II, with about 2,800 Iowa soldiers in Afghanistan alone. It’s a powerful reminder this Memorial Day that freedom comes at a cost. It is not free.|From Sen. Amanda Ragan

Iowa is currently experiencing its largest deployment since World War II, with about 2,800 Iowa soldiers in Afghanistan alone. It’s a powerful reminder this Memorial Day that freedom comes at a cost. It is not free.

Here in Iowa, we’ve become 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 (www.usa4militaryfamilies.dod.mil/ ).

We built on those successes this year with several new measures, including:

** College tuition for Guard members: SF 389 ensures funding for the National Guard Education Assistance program, which helps our soldiers attend Iowa colleges and universities. On May 12, the Senate approved funding that would make $4.2 million available for Fiscal Year 2012.

** Injured Veterans Grant program: SF 402 allows a veteran who previously received an injured veterans’ grant to be eligible for an additional grant for a subsequent serious injury received in the line of duty.

** Avoiding unnecessary fees: Under SF 399, anyone who charges a fee to help veterans file benefit appeals must disclose that these services are provided for free at local veterans’ affairs offices.

**Protecting our troops: HF 484 will help protect our troops by stopping Iowa tax dollars from being invested in Iran, the chief state-sponsor of international terrorism, according to the U.S. Department of State.

** Preventing “stolen valor”: SF 397 makes it illegal to impersonate a decorated military veteran in an effort to achieve monetary gain, such as a job, promotion or political office.

** Tax-exempt pay: HF 652 makes pay for active military service exempt from Iowa state income tax.

** Purple Heart Day: HF 474 makes August 7 “Purple Heart Day” in Iowa. State and local governmentsóand ALL Iowansóare encouraged to observe the day in a way that honors the sacrifice of those killed or wounded in enemy action.

** Supporting veterans’ services: HF 651 establishes 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.

** Posthumously conceived children: When a service member is deployed to a war zone, injury or death could prevent them from conceiving a child. HF 245 ensures that a child conceived using the genetic material of a parent who has died would be considered a legitimate child.

These are just a few small ways we have extended our appreciation to those who’ve served and defended our country. On Memorial Day and every day, I join all Iowans in saying “Thank You.”

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