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Ragan: Honoring our veterans, service members

From Senator Amanda Ragan –

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.

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