When Marcus Amman was 21, he enlisted in the United States Army. He wasn’t looking at the pay or the benefits, but just felt it was his duty. So, to say the least, he was surprised by the number of resources available to veterans – particularly Homebase Iowa.
Home Base Iowa (HBI) is a program that connects veterans and transitioning service members with HBI partners and resources. Its main objective is to connect service men and women to skilled employment that may match the training they have already acquired in the military. Additionally, the program was developed to attract skilled workers to Iowa and retain them.
Union County offers a number of resources to help veterans and their families with education and in transitioning to a new community with focused support through organizations such as Union County Development Association, Southern Iowa Council of Governments (SICOG), Iowa Workforce Development, Union County Veteran’s Affairs, Veterans of Foreign Wars and area business partners.
Amman, a former specialist in the United States Army, said even though he had held another position after receiving his bachelor’s degree in community and regional planning from Iowa State University, he was searching for the right opportunity to make his career and the right place to call home.
Amman found that opportunity with SICOG, however, the move from Boise, Idaho, was going to be challenging.
“There’s a lot of costs that come into play when moving across the country,” said Amman. “Moving everything with two small children, I can’t drive straight anymore. We had to stay four nights, which adds up. There’s all the gas costs.”
Amman said it would have been possible to make the move anyway, but the assistance offered through the Homebase Iowa relieved a lot of the stress for his young family.
“That means a lot. That means, long term a lot less stress of not having to deplete something else. There’s a lot of security built in,” said Amman.
Amman said, through the HBI program, he had assistance in the form of reimbursements for relocation costs and help navigating loan options for purchasing his home. Naturally, he thought the VA loan programs would offer the best option, but through the efforts of SICOG, he discovered a USDA loan was a better fit.
“There may be other things they (HBI) offer, but for me, personally, they may not apply,” said Amman.
Amman, who now works at SICOG as a transportation and regional planner, moved to Creston with his wife Monica and their two children. Within the next two weeks, he has cousins, and aunt and their children following suit.
“So, I will have brought 13 people here,” said Amman.
The HBI program is an initiative developed as a non-profit, private-public partnership under former Governor Terry Branstad to recruit veterans and transitioning service members and help them find careers in Iowa.
In 2014, the Iowa Legislature passed the HBI act, which provides the following incentives: state income tax exemption on military pensions, $5,000 military homeowner assistance, permissive veteran preference in employment, streamlined occupational licensure processes and in-state tuition assessment to eligible U.S. veterans and their families.
For more information about Homebase Iowa, partnerships and eligibility, contact Union County Development Association Executive Director Wayne Pantini at 641-782-2003.