The coffee was hot and the conversation lively at the Veterans Listening Post in Hiawatha, Iowa on Saturday, November 11th. Owner Diane Peterson, her husband Andy, also a veteran, and the staff at Karma Coffee provided a fantastic venue for veterans and their family members and elected officials to informally speak about veteran-specific issues of concern.
Keep Iowa Healthy hosted the event and provided information for veteran services, ACA sign up, and voter registration information for the upcoming run-off elections in Cedar Rapids. Those in attendance shared concerns about homelessness and the need for additional shelter space this winter, employment, and of course, healthcare.
Donald Tyne, Director of Veteran Affairs in Linn County was on hand to distribute information to attendees and to answer questions regarding services available to veterans. Michael McGree, Vocational and Rehabilitation Counselor with the US Department of Veteran Affairs was also available to speak about job training and employability skills not related to the GI Bill used to help veterans.
Elected officials on hand to speak and hear concerns at the local level were County Supervisors James Houser and Jim Harris. State Senator Rob Hogg and State Representative Kirsten Running-Marquardt represented those at the state level.
Several veterans who themselves are running for office were in attendance: George Ramsey III and Courtney Rowe, both vying for the Democratic seat in Iowa’s first congressional district and Scott Foens who is seeking state house seat 68.
As we consider upcoming legislation at the state and federal levels, it is important to remember that not all veterans receive health care through the VA. Twenty million veterans rely on other forms of insurance to help cover medical expenses. Of that number 1.8 million veterans are covered by Medicaid.
Our veterans have earned access to quality affordable healthcare and lawmakers must do better by them.