Source: Sioux City Journal

By Jordan Gonzalez

SIOUX CITY | Joni Ernst's tour of the Crittenton Center in Sioux City on Friday afternoon marked stop No. 51 on the freshman U.S. senator's 99-county tour across Iowa.

Ernst, a Republican who won election in November, said making the rounds in her home state has been educational.

She is the first Iowa woman in Congress.

“As I’m going out I’m learning so much about manufacturing and agriculture and human service needs,” Ernst said. “And now I’m in a position where I can take these ideas, these suggestions and these challenges back to Washington, D.C., and hopefully be able to apply this knowledge now.”

Ernst, a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, also discussed her newly introduced bill, the Prioritizing Veterans' Access to Mental Health Care Act, which would decrease wait times for veterans who need immediate attention. Ernst said veterans now wait an average of 36 days for care.

The bill would allow them to be admitted to a local mental health facility for immediate treatment under certain circumstances.

“If it’s one day sooner, if it’s two weeks sooner, we need to do that for our veterans,” Ernst said.

She also praised the Crittenton Center, which provides emergency shelter for area children, and spoke of its importance to the community.

“[It’s] a wonderful facility and a great tour and there is such a significant need, so I’m glad that the staff and the administration are here for these children,” Ernst said.

She said she plans to wrap up her statewide tour, which started in January, by September.

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