Branstad appoints new leader for Iowa Veterans Home

Governor Terry Branstad announced yesterday that he had accepted the resignation of David Worley as commandant of the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. After the jump I’ve posted the official press release, including Worley’s resignation letter. His successor will be retired Brig. Gen. and former State Representative Jodi Tymeson, whom Branstad named chief operating officer at the Iowa Veterans Home in May. At that time, the governor’s staff dismissed claims that Worley (a holdover from Chet Culver’s administration) had created a hostile work environment at the home. I never understood why Branstad would create an entirely new management position for Tymeson if Worley truly had “the governor’s full faith and confidence.”

I also enclose below comments from Iowa Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Daryl Beall and State Senator Steve Sodders, who represents the Marshalltown area. Beall presided over a lengthy Senate hearing on alleged problems at the Iowa Veterans Home in May, after which Sodders called for a full investigation of Worley’s conduct.

Veterans’ advocate Bob Krause, who is exploring a run for governor, discussed Worley’s resignation and ways to improve conditions for Iowa Veterans Home staff and residents in an open letter, which I’ve posted below.

I’ll say this for Branstad: he knows how to bury a story. On a slow news day, Worley’s resignation might have generated a lot of Iowa media coverage and questions about why the governor waited so long to replace him. Instead, this news will be overshadowed by coverage of the federal government shutdown and the new health insurance exchanges.

Governor Branstad’s press release:

Branstad accepts resignation of Iowa Veterans Home Commandant David Worley, appoints Gen. Jodi Tymeson to serve as new commandant

October 1, 2013

Branstad accepts resignation of Iowa Veterans Home Commandant David Worley, appoints Gen. Jodi Tymeson to serve as new commandant

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad today accepted the resignation of Iowa Veterans Home Commandant David Worley, effective tomorrow.

Branstad has appointed current IVH COO Gen. Jodi Tymeson as the new commandant at the Iowa Veterans Home.

“I want to thank David for his years of service and important changes at the Iowa Veterans Home, and am pleased General Jodi Tymeson will take on this important role for Iowa’s veterans,” said Branstad.

Worley served in the previous administration, and was retained by Gov. Branstad to serve in the commandant position.  The text of his letter is as follows:

Dear Governor,

It has been a great honor to serve our nation’s bravest citizens as Commandant of the Iowa Veterans Home. During my tenure, my top priority has been to provide the excellent standard of care Iowa’s veterans have earned and deserved. Care of our veterans and their spouses always comes first. I worked hard to maintain that standard, and believe we have made a number of positive changes for the betterment of our veterans.

At this time, however, I have made the decision to seek other opportunities. While I am proud of the progress we made, it is with a solemn sense of respect and gratitude for the Iowa Veterans Home that I will be stepping down as the Iowa Veterans Home Commandant effective tomorrow.

I want to thank you for giving me your confidence to serve in this position. It has been an honor to serve the people of Iowa in this role. I want to thank Jodi Tymeson, my fellow staff at the Veterans Home, the volunteers, and families who all contributed to a very positive experience during my tenure.

I will continue to pray for the veterans our home serves. I am thankful for the heroism they provided to defend our nation, and am grateful I had the opportunity to serve them as Commandant. They will have my eternal admiration.

Respectfully submitted,

David G Worley

Commandant, Iowa Veterans Home

Iowa Senate press release, October 1:

Key Senators respond to resignation by

Iowa Veterans Home Commandant

“The exit of David Worley from the Iowa Veterans Home is long overdue, based on what I learned from the veterans who live there and the dedicated staff who work there.  I hope retired Brigadier General Jodi Tymeson moves quickly to regain the trust of the residents and rebuild the relationships damaged by poor leadership.  Governor Branstad allowed this to go on far too long,” said Senator Steve Sodders of Marshalltown, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

State Senator Daryl Beall of Fort Dodge, the chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said investigations into the mistreatment of veterans and management problems will continue.

“It was clear last May that the dignity and respect for the veterans living at the Iowa Veteran Home was is trouble,” said Beall. “Governor Branstad should have taken decisive action then.  Now, we must rebuild and recover from this disappointing failure of leadership. The results of the on-going investigation by the Office of the Iowa Ombudsman will help guide the way. I look forward to working with retired Brigadier General Jodi Tymeson to get the job done.”

Letter to the editor from Bob Krause:

October 1, 2013              

Dear Editor,

Six months after I was the first Iowan to publicly call for a legislative investigation into the management and operations of the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown, Commandant Worley has resigned. Sadly, this resignation did not have to be drawn out as long as it was. The problems were apparent to everyone but the Branstad administration. I suspect that the investigation of the state Ombudsman had something to do with the resignation. Now that the Commandant is gone, I call on Governor Branstad to restore and improve services at the Iowa Veterans Home and give veterans and employees – especially women veterans and employees – the confidence that their complaints will be dealt with professionally, confidentially and fairly.

Specifically, I ask that Governor Branstad insure that the following steps be taken:

1. Restore the at least 3 million dollars in operating funds that have been removed from the state budget of the Iowa Veterans Home. While federal Medicaid funds have supplanted some of the need, the state funds are still required for items unique to the needs of the veteran population. An example is the PTSD Biofeedback machine that was purchased charitable funds because the institution could not fund it.

2. Require the Iowa Department of Administrative Services keep confidentiality around sexual harassment complaints and do not inform an accused harasser of the details of investigation in a manner and circumstance that can lead to retaliation, termination or job elimination for the accuser.

3. Allow individuals impacted by retaliatory personnel actions at the Iowa Veterans Home to rejoin the staff of the Iowa Veterans Home if they so desire.

4. Review care and medical staffing levels to assess where cutting has been too severe. Many times the Commandant would cite staffing ratios and indicated that they were adequate. However, the need for three shifts, staff training, holidays and vacations and routine staff vacancies make his statistics illusory.

5. Restore craft and woodworking therapy programs as well as other recreational and therapy programs. The Iowa Veterans Home is not a normal nursing home, and many veterans stay there for many years because of their disabilities. These services are required so that they do not have to vegetate in front of a television for years.

6. Re-think the new facilities that are used primarily for Alzheimer’s so that conjugal visits can be allowed. Currently conjugal visits can only be allowed if both the husband and wife have Alzheimer’s. This is often not the case, and many veterans are not allowed to be with their loved one because of this.

7. Plan for permanent cottages for veterans with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. Plans for these types of facilities were dumped early in the Branstad Administration because their construction would have been tied to union agreements. However the need is still there and shows more acutely every day as an increasing number of veterans from the current wars become homeless because of these afflictions.

8. Insure that staff professional recommendations on admissions of psychiatric veterans and the discharge of psychiatric veterans are not over-ridden by the Commandant in order to develop budget surpluses. Review the admissions and discharge rules to insure that they do not unjustly leave veterans untreated, or insufficiently treated.

9. Increase staff training budgets. Many staff professionals left the Iowa Veterans Home during this period of turmoil, and newer staff members may not have sufficient training in basics such as how to painlessly transfer a patient from a gurney or a wheelchair to a bed.

10. Review staff procedures concerning the administration of drugs to insure that doctors recommendations are followed at all times, and that a procedure is in place so that staff professionals may offer feedback and input to the prescribing medical doctors.

11. Restore “staff professional” status to many positions that were converted to “at-will” in order to break the strength of the union. The at-will status created a chilling effect on the open staff discussion so necessary to properly run an institution such as this.

12. Re-create a mechanism for staff input and involvement in institution planning and administration.

13. Allow the Residents Council at the institution to run without fear of retaliation.

14. Re-establish the Wheelchair Repair Facility at the Iowa Veterans Home. A large number of veterans at the facility require wheelchairs. Not having a convenient wheelchair repair facility requires veterans to wait days in bed or in a non-compatible wheelchair while their own wheelchair is being repaired.

When these things are accomplished, we will once again have one of the best veterans homes in the United States!


Bob Krause

Veterans Advocate and Exploratory Committee Candidate for Governor

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