Andy Sokolovich sees the Home Base Iowa program as a win-win for veterans and for his community of Clinton, Iowa.
Iowa has a low unemployment rate, which sounds good, but which can be a problem for employers who are looking for good help. Veterans returning home from serving their country need jobs, and in many cases are looking for both a good job and a welcoming community, Sokolovich said.
Home Base Iowa works to connect the two groups.
“I was in the Air Force for 12 years,” says Sokolovich, who serves as existing industry manager for the Clinton Regional Development Corporation. “We are focused and passionate about this program.”
Jason Kemp, Home Base Iowa program manager for the state, says communities have embraced the program, which has attracted veterans and helped those veterans settle back into civilian life.
The program got its start in 2013. Since then, the state developed a set of criteria for communities to be a part of the program, and 96 communities have officially joined. Several more are in the process. There is also an online service where veterans can submit resumes. In 2018, 577 veterans submitted resumes through the program.
From an employer standpoint, Sokolivich says veterans tend to be the type of employees companies want. They come from a military culture that teaches discipline and responsibility. Many are educated or are trained in a specific field.
And he says Clinton is in a good position to use the program because is a border town that can try to attract veterans from out of state to settle there.
Kemp says there are more than 200,000 veterans in Iowa, meaning they comprise more than 7% of the state’s population. They have valuable job skills, he says, and it makes sense for the state to both honor their service and also recruit them.
For veterans there are several benefits of Home Base Iowa. Their military pensions are exempt from state income tax. They can get reimbursed up to a certain amount for the closing cost of buying a home. They can get reimbursed for lodging when they come for an interview. They can post their resumes online on a Home Base Iowa website where employers can search them out.
Iowa also has a program through the Iowa Finance Authority that can help with home ownership for veterans.
And Home Base Iowa officials can direct veterans to programs that can help them financially as they move to or settle into the state.
For more information, visit homebaseiowa.gov.