Emmet County Veterans Affairs
Casee Ross, Administrator
Emmet County Courthouse
609 1st Avenue North
Estherville, IA 51334
Monday – Friday
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Please contact the office in advance to schedule an appointment.
Mission: Inform members of the armed forces, veterans, and their dependents of all federal, state, and local laws enacted for their benefit.
Duty: Provide a no-cost professional service to assist those eligible in obtaining military service records and veteran benefits.
The commission maintains an office on the ground floor of the courthouse. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, or any time with prior coordination.
As the office is normally very busy, appointments are appreciated, please call 712-362-7431.
The Emmet County Veterans Affairs Commissioners are:
- Warren Evans, Estherville
- Marty Kane, Ringsted
- Mike Pytleski, Estherville
Federal benefits: Generally speaking, a veteran must have served on federal active duty, other than training, and have been discharged under honorable conditions or retired under Title 10 of the United States Code to qualify for federal benefits. Benefits include:
- Healthcare – includes hearing aids and eyeglasses.
- Disability compensation – including dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC)
- Non-service-connected pensions.
- Death pensions.
- Education benefits.
- Home loan guarantees.
- Life insurance.
- Burial and memorial benefits.
Presumptive service-connected disability groups:
- Former Prisoners of War.
- Atomic veterans exposed to ionizing radiation.
- Vietnam veterans exposed to “agent orange” – include “blue water” Navy veterans who develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and/or were within 12 nautical miles from the shores of Vietnam and have developed any presumptive condition associated with agent orange exposure.
- Camp Lejeune residents exposed to contaminants in the water supply – must have 30 consecutive days at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.
- Gulf War veterans with an undiagnosed illness rated 10% disabling by Dec 31, 2026.
- Veterans with “chronic diseases” diagnosed within one year of release from active-duty service.
- Veterans who develop amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at any time – must have had 90 days of continuous active-duty service to qualify.
State benefits: The State of Iowa also includes retired Reservist and/or retired Iowa National Guard members in several of their offered benefits. Benefits include:
- Veteran designation on driver’s license or ID card – free at renewal or $10 duplicate fee.
- Veteran license plates – the first set is free; additional military specialty plates are available.
- Military property tax exemption – reduces a veteran’s assessed home value by $1,852.
- Disabled veteran homestead tax credit – provides 100% exemption of property taxes; must be 100% “permanent and total” service-connected disabled or in receipt of DIC.
- Veteran lifetime hunting/fishing license – $7.00 fee; must be service-connected disabled.
- Iowa Veterans Trust Fund – provides temporary assistance for qualifying veterans.
- Iowa Veterans Home – a continuum of care for veterans and their spouses; needs-based.
- Iowa Veterans Cemetery – free internment for veterans and $300 for their dependents.
County benefits: Emmet County provides temporary assistance to qualifying indigent veterans who are legal residents of Emmet County and demonstrate an emergency situation. Assistance/benefits include:
- Monetary assistance is limited to rent, utility, and burial expenses.
- Transportation requests to VA medical appointments will be considered as a last resort and provided only if a volunteer driver is available; volunteers are needed!
- Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight – all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC’s war memorials; open to WWII, Korean, Vietnam, and Peacetime veterans who served between the aforementioned war periods.
- Bronze grave markers – initial marker is provided at no cost
All benefits are based on applications and this does not guarantee benefits.
D.A.V. Van Information
The van provides transportation without cost to all able-bodied veterans using the VA Medical Center, Sioux Falls. The VA Medical Center pays for all van expenses. Veterans riding the van determine the schedule.
All questions about scheduling the van should be referred to the Emmet County VA Office at 712-362-7431. Veterans are encouraged to call as far in advance of their appointments as possible to ensure the van can be scheduled when needed.
The pick-up location is Spirit Lake, Iowa HyVee, the time of pickup will be based upon the earliest appointment on the day of the trip. The van will not be able to wait at pickup points. If a veteran is not waiting when the van arrives the driver will assume the veteran no longer needs a ride that day.
The veteran must be ambulatory and able to enter and exit the van on his/her own. The drivers are volunteers and are neither trained nor allowed to assist. If desired, an additional step is available which can be placed on the ground to ease with entry and exit of the van. Per the direction of DAV, this van was not equipped for handicapped veterans.
Drinking any beverage, use of tobacco products, foul language, and eating are not allowed in the van. Weapons and any illegal products are prohibited. The driver may refuse transportation to any veteran who appears intoxicated, is abusive, or may pose a threat to the driver or any other passenger.
Passengers must wear seat belts at all times. Anyone refusing to buckle up will be denied transportation.
Individuals other than a veteran with an appointment or veteran may be permitted to ride the van with the veteran only if that individual’s presence is required to assist the veteran; prior notification of this is required. The veteran must be ready to leave when the van departs the medical center.
The driver may refuse to transport any veteran whom he feels is too ill to ride the van, or the driver may request a written statement from a VA physician stating it is permissible for the veteran to travel.
Veterans using the van will not be eligible or receive reimbursement for travel expenses as they rode the van without expense.
During inclement weather, the driver will decide whether or not he/she feels it is safe to travel. If the driver feels the trip would be unsafe, he/she will notify those riding the van through a cancellation notice on both KICD and KUOO radio stations.