United States Congressman Dave Loebsack visited the Keokuk American Legion on Monday afternoon.
Loebsack was in town to meet with veterans to discuss problems they may be facing and what he could do as their congressman to help. He has been doing these round table discussions for several years now and finds that there is always at least some good that comes out of them.
“Just hooking folks up with my office and then maybe being able to get whatever the issue is resolved, that’s the important thing.” Loebsack said.
Among the most notable topics discussed by Loebsack and the veterans was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and struggles veterans with the disorder face.
The congressman mentioned that at times it is tough to know how many people truly suffer from PTSD because many people avoid treatment because of they fear being judged.
“The hardest thing to break is the stigma,” Loebsack said.
Another topic of conversation was the recently passed Mission Act, which is an act for VA reform. It includes the creation of a Veteran’s Community Care Program, the creation of an Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission and an expansion on family caregiver and other medical provisions.
Keokuk veteran Ryan Haney discussed burn pits used by soldiers in Iraq and their connection to cancer as an under discussed topic among help for veterans. He compared it to Agent Orange from Vietnam and said he would like to see more being down for people suffering from side effects from the burn pits.
“It doesn’t get talked about a lot and with the high cancer rates connected to it, I guess I would like to see at the very least, more awareness.” Haney said. “Not just in the public to know it’s out there, but for veterans coming back because I speak to a lot of veterans who don’t know anything about it either.”
Haney said he thinks a meeting like the one Loebsack had at the American Legion can be a good place to pass along information and raise awareness.
“I think it’s a start, I think we need more action,” Haney said.
This is the seventh year Loebsack has gone around Iowa for these events and he said he does them around the Fourth of July every year because of the way veterans are treated this time of year.
“We are so free as a country for all these years because of our veterans,” Loebsack said. “I want to make sure we honor them by doing these events around that time.”
Loebsack said he enjoys the meetings because it allows him to hear stories and the issues directly from the people he is representing.
“You can read the stories you want to read, you can read something in the paper. You can read a testimonial, but that’s not the same thing as hearing that right from them, face to face,” Loebsack said.