DES MOINES – Gov. Terry Branstad announced Tuesday that he has accepted David Worley’s resignation as commandant of the Iowa Veterans Home and named retired Brig. Gen. Jodi Tymeson to take his place at the Marshalltown facility.
Tymeson has been serving as the home’s chief operating officer since last May. She left the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs to become chief operating officer at the veterans’ home.
“During my tenure, my top priority has been to provide the excellent standard of care Iowa’s veterans have earned and deserved. Care of our veterans and their spouses always comes first. I worked hard to maintain that standard, and believe we have made a number of positive changes for the betterment of our veterans,” Worley said in his resignation letter to the governor.
“At this time, however, I have made the decision to seek other opportunities,” he added. “While I am proud of the progress we made, it is with a solemn sense of respect and gratitude for the Iowa Veterans Home that I will be stepping down as the Iowa Veterans Home Commandant effective tomorrow.
Worley, who was appointed by former Gov. Chet Culver and retained by Branstad, had come under fire from critics who questioned his management style in providing services for more than 600 Veterans Home residents. Witnesses at an Iowa Senate hearing during the 2013 session painted a work environment of hostility, fear and low employee morale during the meeting.
However, Branstad and top administration officials consistently gave Worley a strong vote of confidence for providing “a high level of quality services” at a facility that scored well in state and federal reviews.
“I want to thank David for his years of service and important changes at the Iowa Veterans Home, and am pleased General Jodi Tymeson will take on this important role for Iowa’s veterans,” Branstad said in a statement.
Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, whose district includes Marshalltown and who called on Branstad to place Worley on paid administrative leave while independent investigators probe allegations of intimidation, bullying, sexual harassment and other problems at the Iowa Veterans Home, said Worley’s exit was long overdue.
“I hope retired Brigadier General Jodi Tymeson moves quickly to regain the trust of the residents and rebuild the relationships damaged by poor leadership. Governor Branstad allowed this to go on far too long,” Sodders said.
Sen. Daryl Beall, D-Fort Dodge, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said investigations into the mistreatment of veterans and management problems will continue.
“It was clear last May that the dignity and respect for the veterans living at the Iowa Veteran Home was is trouble,” Beall said in a statement. “Governor Branstad should have taken decisive action then. Now, we must rebuild and recover from this disappointing failure of leadership.”
Sen. Jack Hatch, a Des Moines Democrat who is running for governor in 2014, criticized Branstad for mismanaging the situation and said Worley’s departure will leave veterans at the Marshalltown home better off.
“Worley’s resignation comes way too late for the dozens of staff members and residents who have been forced to endure his bullying and lack of ability to effectively manage the Iowa Veterans Home,” Hatch said in a statement. “The veterans who deserve world-class care at the home will be better off as a result.”
Hatch said the Senate Appropriations Committee handles the veterans’ home budget and has heard many complaints from staff members as part of the budgeting process in recent years.
“We’ve been talking about problems with Worley for more than two years, and it’s a relief to finally get some action,” he said.
Rather than just promote Tymeson, Hatch called for a nationwide search for qualified candidates who have the experience of running a nursing home – given the Iowa Veterans Home is the largest nursing home in the country – which “will allow for more professionalism and hopefully a better bedside manner on the part of the next commandant.”
It has been a great honor to serve our nation’s bravest citizens as Commandant of the Iowa Veterans Home. During my tenure, my top priority has been to provide the excellent standard of care Iowa’s veterans have earned and deserved. Care of our veterans and their spouses always comes first. I worked hard to maintain that standard, and believe we have made a number of positive changes for the betterment of our veterans.
At this time, however, I have made the decision to seek other opportunities. While I am proud of the progress we made, it is with a solemn sense of respect and gratitude for the Iowa Veterans Home that I will be stepping down as the Iowa Veterans Home Commandant effective tomorrow.
I want to thank you for giving me your confidence to serve in this position. It has been an honor to serve the people of Iowa in this role. I want to thank Jodi Tymeson, my fellow staff at the Veterans Home, the volunteers, and families who all contributed to a very positive experience during my tenure.
I will continue to pray for the veterans our home serves. I am thankful for the heroism they provided to defend our nation, and am grateful I had the opportunity to serve them as Commandant. They will have my eternal admiration.
David G Worley
Commandant, Iowa Veterans Home