Des Moines, Iowa — The executive director of the state’s “Home Base Iowa” initiative is planning to attend job fairs on nearly a dozen military bases over the next few months to encourage retiring soldiers to move to Iowa. Jason Kemp will visit five Army bases, four Air Force bases and two Naval stations.
Kemp is a retired Air Force master sergeant and he’s been executive director of the Home Base Iowa program for six weeks.
Kemp sees “regional” recruitment as a priority, as he seeks to sell Iowa as a new home where retiring vets can get a break on college tuition, get help buying a first home and get help from Home Base Iowa in finding a job.
Three northwest Iowa counties were named Home Base Iowa counties last month. O’Brien and Lyon Counties received the designation on Tuesday, October 27th, and Sioux County was designated a Home Base Iowa County on Wednesday, October 28th.
The U.S. Army is cutting its ranks by 40-thousand soldiers over the next two years, part of a downsizing of all branches of the U.S. military. The Home Base Iowa initiative began in 2014. So far 900 Iowa businesses have signed a pledge, promising to hire veterans and 16 colleges and universities in Iowa, including Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon, have been declared “CHAMPS” for providing tuition breaks and other services on campus to veterans. The schools also offer deferred payment options, so college bills come due when the soldiers receive education assistance grants from the military. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly nine percent of adult Iowans are veterans.
Radio Iowa assisted with this story.