CEDAR FALLS — The Black Hawk County Commission of Veteran Affairs is raising concerns about a meeting between Cedar Falls’ mayor and some veterans.
Commission chairman Glen Keith and commissioner Jeremy Rosel spoke Monday during the public forum section of the Cedar Falls City Council meeting and later released a statement to the media. It suggested the city was exploring the possible establishment of an independent veterans service center for Cedar Falls.
“We are the county office for veteran affairs,” Keith said in an interview, calling it a “one-stop shop” for services that is established through Iowa Code. “Our employees are accredited to help veterans.”
During Monday’s meeting, Mayor Jim Brown said “there might be some confusion” about his intent with the effort. “What I’ve done is created a Cedar Falls exploratory meeting for veterans,” he said. “This was just to discuss the potential for a Cedar Falls veterans office.”
Brown also referenced a part-time veteran’s office established two years ago at the Cedar Falls public works building.
The discussion was “very high level and very far term,” Brown added. He described the group as informal and said it is largely focused on sharing information between veterans and the city. Another meeting is planned, he noted.
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The statement released by the commission objected, however, that “the Black Hawk County VA was not invited to participate in these meetings.” Keith is concerned that the group’s exploration could still result in a separate office, which he believes would weaken area veterans’ services overall.
“If people view (that) there is a need for a second office, then come to us,” he said. Keith noted that when the veterans commission-staffed Cedar Falls office referenced by Brown was active in the past, it was underutilized. “Veterans weren’t actively coming to the office for services.”
Those who need services can contact the county office, which he said has the ability to transport veterans to its location at the Pinecrest Center in Waterloo or send personnel to them.
“The county has given us additional space at the Pinecrest building,” said Keith. Efforts are underway to move the veterans offices to the building’s first floor. The space will have more room for gatherings as well as to provide potential services such as counseling.
Keith encouraged anyone who wants to learn more about the Black Hawk County Commission of Veterans Affairs or about the Black Hawk County Veterans Affairs Department to attend one of their monthly meetings. They are held at 4 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at the Pinecrest Center, 1407 Independence Ave.
People can contact Keith directly at email@example.com with any questions.