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As a soldier returning from duty overseas in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom, you may be eligible for several benefits, such as transition and readjustment services and medical benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs website details the benefits available to you.

You may also wish to obtain assistance in filing any claims. Here is a listing of county VA commissioners in Iowa. You may also wish to contact one of the national veteran service organizations listed at the bottom of this web page.

Many soldiers who have been deployed overseas have been activated National Guard and Reserve soldiers who have left their civilian position in order to serve their country. The Department of Defense (DOD) can assist you to readjusting to your previous position and can work with you and your former employer through the DOD organization Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Am I eligible for benefits?

For information about eligibility, contact the VA national service
Phone: 1-800-827-1000
Website: www.va.gov

Who can I speak to locally about benefits?

You can contact the Iowa City VA Medical Center
Phone: 319-338-0551

Des Moines VA Medical Center
Phone: 515-699-5999

Regional Office
Phone: 1-800-827-1000

How/Where do I apply for benefits?

Direct assistance with VA claims is provided by a number of Service Organizations and/or your county's Veteran Service Office. For specific county information contact:

Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs
Phone: 515-242-5331

The following is other contact information:

American Legion
Phone: 1-800-944-2039

Paralyzed Veterans of America
Phone: 515-323-7544

Veterans of Foreign Wars
Phone: 515-323-7546

Vietnam Veterans of America
Phone: 515-323-7549

You can also find a listing of your Veteran Service Office in the government section of your local telephone directory.

Are Selected Reserve and National Guard eligible for benefits?

Selected Reserve and National Guard members who served on regular active duty are eligible for the same VA benefits as other veterans. The member must meet the same length of service required for any benefit.

My VA claim was denied, what next?

Veterans and other claimants for VA benefits have the right to appeal decisions made by a VA regional office or medical center. The Service Organization or County Service Office that assisted you with your claim should be able to help with your personal appeal. Issues that have been appealed in the past include: disability compensation, pension, education benefits, recovery of overpayments, medication co-payment debts and reimbursement for medical services that ere not authorized. You will have one year from the date of the notification of a VA decision to file an appeal.

Where do I get a copy of my Service Records?

A copy of your military service records can be obtained by contacting:

National Personnel Records Center
Phone: 314-801-0800 Monday-Friday, 7:30AM to 3:45PM CST

For assistance with expediting your request, you may complete the SF 180 - Request Pertaining to Military Records form and send it to me at along with your name and return address:

Senator Tom Harkin
Attention: Casework
210 Walnut St. Rm. 733
Des Moines, IA 50309

I will forward your request to the NPRC and ask it to provide a copy of your requested records as soon as possible. Your questions may also be sent to:

National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records Center
9700 Page Avenue
ST. Louis, MO 63132-5100

Can my official military service record be changed?

The secretary of a military department, acting through a board for correction of military records, has authority to change any military record when necessary to correct an error or remove an injustice. A veteran, survivor or legal representative generally must file a request for correction within three years of discovery or an error or injustice. To justify any correction, it is necessary to show to the satisfaction of the board that the alleged entry or omission in the records was an error or unjust. Applications for correction should include all available evidence, such as witness statements or a brief of supporting arguments. Application for correction is made with DD Form 149, Application for Correction of Military Record, May 2005.

What can I do to upgrade my discharge status?

Each of the services maintains a discharge review board with authority to change, correct or modify discharges or dismissals not issued by a general court martial sentence. The board has no authority to address medical discharges. You may apply for review by writing to your military service department using DD Form 293, Application for the Review of Discharge from the Armed Forces. If discharge was more than 15 years ago, you must petition the services Board of Correction of Military Records using DD Form 149, Application for Correction of Military Record, May 2005.

How do I receive Service Medals I never received or replace lost, destroyed, or stolen medals?

I would be happy to submit a request on your behalf to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). The NPRC will review your request, verify the awards and decorations you are entitled to receive, and forward that information to your branch of service for issuance. I have been a leader in the Senate in calling on the Department of Defense to improve the process for issuing military medals so that veterans receive the medals that they earned for their service. In 1999, I added an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill which directed the Secretary of Defense to eliminate the backlog in decoration requests. Since then, delays in receiving medals have been greatly reduced and hundreds of Iowa veterans have benefited. Please provide a completed SF 180 - Request Pertaining to Military Records form indicating your wish to obtain all authorized awards and decorations and, if possible, a copy of your DD 214. This information will assist the NPRC with verification of the awards and decorations you are entitled to receive. For assistance with expediting your request, please direct your request to along with your name and return address:

Senator Tom Harkin
Attention: Casework
210 Walnut St. Rm. 733
Des Moines, IA 50309


VA Benefits and Health Care Sites

Employment Assistance

Business Assistance

Other Useful Sites

Helpful Phone Numbers

  • Senator Harkin's Des Moines Office 515-284-4574
  • Senator Harkin's Washington Office 202-224-3254
  • VA Benefits 1-800-827-1000
  • Health Benefits 1-877-222-8387
  • Educational Benefits 1-888-442-4551
  • Life Insurance 1-800-669-8477
  • Debt Management 1-800-827-0648
  • Mammography Hotline 1-888-492-7844
  • Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD) 1-800-829-4833
  • CHAMPVA 1-800-733-8387
  • Headstones and Markers 1-800-697-6974
  • Gulf War and Agent Orange 1-800-749-8387