2-12-09zirkelbach-vetsDemocratic legislators today unveiled a package of initiatives to provide more support for veterans and their families.

“We have an obligation to make sure veterans and their families get the support they deserve,” said State Representative Ray Zirkelbach of Monticello, who chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee. “Our plan will make sure our soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder can get help and the children of military families get a quality education without falling between the cracks because of frequent moves.”

The package announced today will:

Ensure that soldiers returning from active duty with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder get the mental health services they need from their insurance company (House File 68)

Allow an employee to use Family Military Leave if a family member is called to or returns from active duty (House File 237)

Prohibit home foreclosures on military reserve members and their family while serving on active duty (House File 251)
Ease the education transition for children of the military through a national education compact (House File 214)
Provide employer relief for unemployment claims from temporary workers who lose their job when employees on active duty return from service (Senate File 109)

“With one of the highest number of guard and reserve members called to active duty, we know Iowa families and employers have made great sacrifices. When guard members return from service to their jobs, employers should not be penalized by having to pay the unemployment claim filed by the temporary replacement,” said State Senator Daryl Beall (Fort Dodge), chair of the Senate Veterans Committee. “By having the claim paid by the unemployment fund generally, the employer who did the right thing is held harmless, and we do the right thing by the veteran and the replacement worker.”

“Families with a parent called to active duty face difficult circumstances and are under great stress. We can make thing easier for families by giving spouses the option of using family leave. We should also expand foreclosure protection for reserve members called to active duty,” added State Representative McKinley Bailey of Webster City, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan.