How does a military family start planning for life outside the service?

As her husband inched toward retirement from the U.S. Army, Lauren Foust knew what she wanted in a new home, and she knew how to search for it. Ultimately, she found it in Des Moines.

“Iowa just checked all the boxes,” Foust said. “Des Moines has a small-town feel for a big city. There’s a lot that’s ideal here that people don’t realize.”

Foust, a former claims adjudicator for the Georgia Department of Labor, had followed her husband across the globe, including two years in South Korea. But as his imminent retirement date was becoming a reality, there were new decisions that needed to be made.

Where would they live? Her family was in Georgia and his was in the northwest. Job opportunities abounded. But how do you make that choice?

Foust made a checklist. Her requirements included:

  • Good schools.
  • Good neighborhoods.
  • A city that she could live in, instead of the suburbs.
  • Low Crime.
  • An affordable cost of living.

She set about researching, comparing home prices, test scores, and potential starting wages in seven states. Some jobs would have provided better salaries, but the house would have had to be smaller. Some would require an unacceptable commute. Des Moines was the only place to have winning scores in every category.

YouTube videos of life in Beaverdale helped seal the deal.

Foust started work in October as a workforce advisor for Iowa Workforce Development. Her husband, who obtained his Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) shortly before the move, quickly landed a position with a regional trucking company.

“All I know about Iowa before us coming here was what I saw when we drove through,” she said. “After looking at months and months of research, it just kind of all came into place.”

It might have come easier if Foust had known about Home Base Iowa.

Home Base Iowa was created to connect Iowa businesses with qualified Iowa veterans and their spouses who are looking for career opportunities. The program also provides resources to help connect veterans and their families with education and in transitioning to a new community.  Veterans can post their resumes to a special database that can be accessed automatically by partner companies looking for reliable workers with specific skills.

Veterans across the county would do well to take a long look at Iowa when planning their life after the military, Foust suggests. Not only does Iowa have ample job opportunities for Veterans and their skillsets, but the net of support is wide. Home Base Iowa includes nearly 120 communities and more than 2,300 businesses statewide who are specifically looking to hire Veterans for new careers.

“This is a great area for all kinds of reasons,” she said. “It’s good that we have programs like that to reach out to transitioning service people. I think a lot of people just don’t realize that they can move to places like this.”

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