Iowa delegation tries again to address military suicides (updated)

UPDATE: The U.S. Senate passed the Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans Mental Health Act of 2021 by unanimous consent on June 24, and President Joe Biden signed it into law on June 30. Original post follows.

From the earliest Memorial Day observances organized by freed slaves following the Civil War, this holiday has focused on remembering military service members who died in wars. More than 26,700 Iowans have died in wartime service, with the Civil War accounting for nearly half of the fatalities.

Far too many Americans with military backgrounds die by their own hands. Hundreds of active-duty troops and more than 6,000 veterans take their own lives every year. That death toll exceeds the total U.S. military fatalities in Iraq from 2003 to 2020.

Iowa’s members of Congress have tried again this spring to improve mental health services for veterans. Unlike in previous years, legislation named after Sergeant Brandon Ketchum made it through the U.S. House and now awaits action in the Senate.

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The case for a simpler, values-driven Democratic Party platform

Jeremy Dumkrieger chairs the Woodbury County Democrats. -promoted by Laura Belin

In 2018, the Woodbury County Democrats approved the platform pasted below. It wasn’t perfect, but it was simple. It was intended to be. In fact, it could be simpler.

We wanted something we could put on a palm card to let folks know what we believe. Far too often we are bogged down by complicated rhetoric that serves only to obscure the direct message intended for everyday Iowans.

Soon the Iowa Democratic Party will host the Platform Committee’s work to finalize our state platform. I suggest they ignore specifics and finally see the bigger picture.

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Joni Ernst turned her back on Iowans

Kay Pence is Vice President of the Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans. -promoted by Laura Belin

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst is no longer working for Iowans. She is working at the behest of President Donald Trump, no matter what he says or does. She has become a puppet to Trump no matter how low he sinks, voting with the president more than 91 percent of the time and following his lead to attack our healthcare and defund Social Security.

The Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans recently invited Ernst and her Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield to virtual forums celebrating the anniversaries of Medicare and Social Security. I was not surprised when Ernst failed to show up for either forum, because she has such a dismal record on both issues.  

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Ernst, Grassley silent on reported bounty on U.S. troops in Afghanistan

As Donald Trump’s presidency continues to spawn scandals that would seem farfetched as a movie plot, top Iowa Republicans remain silent whenever possible on news that reflects poorly on their party’s standard-bearer.

The latest shameful example: U.S. Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley have said nothing in public about reports indicating a “Russian military intelligence unit offered and paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan.”

Ernst’s silence is particularly striking, since she built her political brand on (and still frequently invokes) her career of service in the Iowa National Guard.

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Why I support Mike Franken for U.S. Senate

Nancy Bobo is a retired non-profit executive, founder of the Democratic group Women for a Stronger America, and a Democratic volunteer in Des Moines. -promoted by Laura Belin

In early March, the week before everything started shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my husband and I hosted a house party for Mike Franken, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. A friend had introduced me to Mike several weeks earlier, and I was exceptionally impressed. I was pleasantly surprised when our house filled wall-to-wall that morning with the biggest crowd we’ve ever hosted for a political candidate.

Guests arrived curious to meet Mike and knowing little about him. Numerous guests had come supporting another candidate and changed their allegiance that day. Mike’s background, experience, and a certain degree of Iowa charm were compelling. He left with a pile of checks and new supporters. Today, Franken’s support is clearly growing.

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