Q: What is your Veterans Fellow program?
A: This program invites a military veteran to work in my Senate office to serve as a community outreach officer for Iowa veterans. The Veterans Fellow serves as a liaison to help Iowa veterans reconnect in their communities, such as obtaining health care services, housing and employment or accessing community supports that empower returning military members to thrive and lead meaningful, productive lives after their service ends. The Veterans Fellow is based out of my Des Moines or Cedar Rapids offices. The Fellow serves as an ambassador with the veteran community in Iowa and connects with veterans, veterans’ service organizations, veterans’ health care providers, and other organizations serving the veteran community across Iowa.
The Fellow also helps my Senate office obtain and record Iowa veterans’ stories for the Veterans History Project organized by the Library of Congress. The Fellow may represent my office at local events honoring or serving veterans and participate in welcome home and deployment ceremonies for members of the Iowa National Guard. The Fellow also may connect Iowa veterans encountering specific problems involving a federal agency with my constituent service specialists to help cut red tape.
Q: Why did you create a Veterans Fellow position in your office?
A: Our system of representative government gives the people a say at the policymaking tables through their elected officials. From the local school board to the state legislature and Congress, Iowans decide who will shape public policy on their behalf and write laws impacting education, health care, taxes, safe streets, national security and more. As Iowa’s senior U.S. Senator, I work tirelessly to keep in touch with Iowans to know what’s on their minds and help solve problems affecting opportunities to get ahead and stay ahead. Holding Q&A’s with Iowans in every county, at least once a year is one way I keep up with what’s happening in every corner of the state. My six state offices in Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Des Moines, Sioux City and Waterloo provide Iowans another opportunity to contact for assistance or to share their views. Each of these offices has a Regional Director who schedules Listening Posts in local communities to give residents another way to share concerns and seek help dealing with a federal agency. Several years ago, I expanded my efforts to touch base with our veteran community in Iowa with creation of the Veterans Fellow program. I strive to keep in tune with the challenges returning members of the military encounter when they reintegrate into civilian life. Having a Veterans Fellow on board reinforces my legislative efforts in the U.S. Senate on behalf of veterans, such as improving accountability by the Department of Veterans Affairs, expanding suicide prevention and accessing appropriate medical benefits, including for those discharged with PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injury. A veteran who has had boots on the ground in service to our nation can hit the ground running with their experience and expertise to help me make sure the federal government fulfills its promises to the men and women who have served in uniform. In fact, my legislative policy advisor handling veterans issues on Capitol Hill returned to my Senate staff following her deployment in Qatar with the Iowa Army National Guard.
Q: How can interested Iowans apply for this program?
A: My Senate office is taking applications for this competitive position. Interested applicants must be a U.S. military veteran. Home base will be my Des Moines or Cedar Rapids office, although the majority of work is conducted out in the community. Applicants need to be able to drive their own vehicle to meetings and appointments. Evening and weekend work is required. Stipend and mileage reimbursement is provided for this part-time position with flexible office hours. Public speaking skills are desired. It goes without saying that candidates must be positive and passionate about serving veterans. Having a Veteran Fellow embedded in my Senate office gives Iowa veterans another advocate to help identify unmet needs and unspoken challenges they face on a daily basis. The Fellow serves as another set of eyes and ears on the ground to strengthen the process of representative government. Consider a testimonial from Dave Allen, my most recent Veterans Fellow who was an invaluable asset to the veteran community in Iowa, “This fellowship program makes the adage come true every day on the job. ‘You get out what you put in.’ It’s been the honor of a lifetime to serve my fellow veterans of all ages and branches of the U.S. military.” The fellowship term is generally for six months, with opportunity for renewal.