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Old 09-14-2018, 04:10 PM
Newton Daily News Newton Daily News is offline
 
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Default Vets trust fund error leads Jasper County to intervention

When a local veteran was denied assistance from the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund, Jasper County Veterans Affairs Director Kurt Jackson stepped in to help. Wednesday, during the Commission of Veteran’s Affairs monthly meeting, Jackson told the commissioners he’d assisted a veteran with the purchase of a hot water heater during the last month after the veteran, whose name was not disclosed, was turned away by the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund.

The water heater, which cost $419, was purchased at a Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Altoona last month.

“I knew he qualified. He’s a vet. I didn’t want him to have to wait another month for them to figure it out,” Jackson said.

Jackson told commissioners the veteran sought his assistance after a caseworker who processes claims with the Iowa Veterans trust fund told the veteran his National Guard service didn’t qualify him because he didn’t have 90 days of active duty federal service.

Under the current law, Iowa code states a veteran is defined as someone who served and has been honorably discharged during a conflict. The conflict dates cover wars that have involved overseas deployment of the armed forces, including the current War on Terror, which is still ongoing.

Members of the National Guard are also eligible for a veteran designation if they have more than 20 years of service with the guard, or if they have been completed a minimum of 90 days of active federal duty. The veteran designation confers a number of benefits to individuals, including VA benefits, pension benefits, and numerous discounts where veterans are recognized. Without the designation, veterans are unable to join the American Legion as well.

While Jackson has a fund to provide emergency assistance to local veterans in need, the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund is designed to help veterans cover the cost of things like home repair. In an interview Wednesday, Jackson said veterans typically have used the fund in the past to cover household repairs and vehicle repairs. An application given to the Newton Daily News details the assistance the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund is able to provide, which includes up to $3,000 for household repair, and $2,500 for vehicle repair in a period of 12 consecutive months.

Although the veteran’s application had been denied, Jackson said he was confident the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund had made an error, so he decided to tap his office’s emergency assistance fund to cover the cost of the water heater.

“I said ‘let’s go get you a water heater,’ and he paid the taxes and had it installed,” Jackson told commissioners Wednesday afternoon.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the members of the Veterans Affairs Commission supported Jackson’s decision, with commissioner Jerry Nelson telling Jackson he’s heard of other veterans who have been mistakenly turned away by the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund. Commissioner Marta Ford said she was disappointed to hear the claim had been denied.

“This is why people get upset with the VA, this is the reason,” Ford said. “I wonder how many other people she’s turned down.”

Before purchasing the water heater, Jackson looked at other potential avenues to help the veteran in question. Typically, most of the support Jackson provides from his office is intended for emergencies. He often helps local veterans cover expenses relating to food and shelter. Jackson offered to cover a portion of the veteran’s mortgage, and let the veteran use the difference to cover the cost of the hot water heater, but with the home already in foreclosure, the payment Jackson’s office sent to the bank was returned. With no other viable option, Jackson decided to move forward with purchasing the hot water heater. In an interview following the commissioner’s monthly meeting Jackson said he felt confident commissioners would support the move.

“I have a really great commission, and they trust me,” Jackson said.

Contact David Dolmage at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or ddolmage@newtondailynews.com




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