The Ottumwa Courier

November 26, 2013

Veterans Affairs director under fire

By Wanda Moeller
Courier editor

---- — OTTUMWA — In what could have been a closed session to discuss a personnel matter during the Wapello County Board Supervisors meeting was kept open at the request of Marty Cremer, director of Wapello County Veterans Affairs.

Normally, the county and the affected individual have the right to close the session to evaluate the professional competency of an individual whose appointment, hiring, performance or discharge is being considered when necessary to prevent needless and irreparable injury to that individual's reputation. The individual has the right to request a closed session.

Cremer, however, wanted to clear the air on an incident that occurred in his office. Accompanying Cremer to Tuesday's meeting was Joe Mulcahy, chairman of the Wapello Commission on Veterans Affairs.

Board Chairman Greg Kenning said the issue before the board was a complaint lodged by a River Hills employee concerning Cremer's treatment of the River Hills employee who asked him to share information on the Affordable Care Act. The employee stated Cremer was disrespectful. The River Hills employee also indicated Cremer would not pass on information to veterans on the Affordable Care Act.

"I’m here to help veterans to help get into veterans programs with the VA, Tri-Care, Champs and other programs," said Cremer. "Veterans have options outside of the Affordable Care Act. My veterans don't ask about the Affordable Care Act. They ask about veterans programs."

Supervisor Steve Siegel asked Cremer why not give veterans information about the Affordable Care Act. Should the veteran not qualify for any veterans' programs, he noted, it would be another avenue for veterans to seek help.

Cremer asked why he should push a piece of legislation (Affordable Care Act) that doesn't have anything to do with veterans. "I'm here to serve our veterans," he said.

Again, Kenning reminded Cremer that all the county was asking him to do was make information on the Affordable Care Act available to veterans. "Some people may not qualify for veterans programs," he said, reminding Cremer that more and more people each week are signing up for the Affordable Care Act.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Mulcahy said the local veterans office would make information available on the Affordable Care Act. If they had questions about it, they'd refer them to River Hills Community Health Center in Ottumwa.