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Old 08-11-2018, 08:41 AM
Newton Daily News Newton Daily News is offline
 
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Default VA board votes to leave assistance program unchanged

When local veterans have nowhere else to turn, they often find themselves at Kurt Jackson’s door. Jackson, the director of the Jasper County Veterans Affairs office, administers financial aid to veterans in need, helping cover the cost of groceries, heating bills and in one instance, a generator.

During the Veterans Affairs Commissioners monthly meeting Thursday, the commission voted to move forward without making any additional changes to the aid program.

Jackson approached the commission to seek guidance on whether or not he needed to involve commissioners before rendering aid to local veterans. At issue is the number of “frequent fliers” or veterans who are often in need of Jackson’s assistance.

“We have a certain amount that we can put out each year, but at what point do I need to alert you if we have someone who keeps coming back to the well,” Jackson asked the commission.

Commissioner Marta Ford said, while the total amount of assistance the office is able to offer hasn’t changed, she’s comfortable with the current system. Each year veterans in Jasper County are offered assistance, once they’ve reached the maximum allowable amount of aid, they are ineligible for benefits until the following year.

“I know we’ve got people on the books who come in every year, but if our budget is OK, let’s keep going that way,” Ford said.

With a healthy budget, Ford said she doesn’t have any concerns about the level of support the county VA office is currently administering.

Commissioner Mike Naber said he didn’t support the idea of creating a “lifetime cap” and cutting off assistance to veterans in need after they reached a certain financial threshold.

“Do we evaluate every year?” Naber asked commissioners. “It’s not a lifetime cap, once you hit it you’re out, you’re done.”

Jackson also asked the board to clarify their policy towards assisting homes which have more than one veteran in resident. In 2013, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta lifted the ban on women in combat, over the last two decades there has been an influx of female veterans. Jackson said several of the veterans he’s assisted reside in a home with two veterans, an increasing trend.

“We didn’t have this problem before,” Jackson said.

In a consensus vote, the commissioners agreed to continue providing assistance to veterans on an individual basis, whether or not they reside with another veteran. Ford, who served as a nurse in Vietnam, said she was in favor of providing the support on an individual basis.

“As far as I’m concerned, they’re both entitled. If you give it to one, you give it to the other,” Ford said. “She served her time, too.”

Fore!

On Thursday, Jackson also announced a partnership between TPI Composites and the Jasper County Veterans Affairs Office. TPI, a Newton wind blade manufacturer, is Jasper County’s largest employer. The business reached out to Jackson’s office to offer to host a golf fundraiser for the Veterans Affairs Office.

“TPI came to us, (and) they want to do a fundraiser for us,” Jackson said.

The event, which is scheduled for Oct. 6, at Oakland Acres Golf Club in Grinnell, will feature a 10 a.m. shotgun start. Registration is $160 per team, due by Sept. 30.

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



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