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The Third District of Texas is a deeply patriotic community that is home to many veterans.  And as a 29-year Air Force Veteran who fought in both the Korean and Vietnam wars – and who spent nearly seven years in the infamous Hanoi Hilton POW camp – supporting our veterans is an issue that is very near and dear to my heart.

America’s servicemen and women – past and present – are the protectors and defenders of our democracy.  For their service and their sacrifice, I believe that when our veterans return home we should do what we can to help them transition into public life.  This means access to good health care, education, and family support.  It also means we, as a community, recognize our veterans for their service. 

To learn about some of the current issues facing our veterans, click on a bullet to jump down to that portion of the page: 

VETERAN HEALTH CARE

Local Collin County VA Clinic

North Texas is home to many troops and veterans. And while our local Dallas VA hospital is doing better than many VA hospitals around the nation, Collin County veterans know that driving to the Dallas VA can be tough due to traffic. To help our local veterans, I worked for several years with the Dallas VA to open a local clinic, and on September 16, 2016, we celebrated this much-needed clinic's Grand Opening.  Plano's VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) will serve nearly 6,000 veterans a year and will provide primary care services.  To learn more about this clinic, CLICK HERE.  

In addition, I am pleased that in early 2016 plans for a second Specialty Clinic were announced.  Plans are ongoing as a site is determined.  For more information, please call my Plano office or check back in with my website for important updates! 

Responding to 2014 VA Waitlist Scandal

In the spring of 2014, it was reported that at least 40 American veterans died while waiting for care at the Phoenix, Arizona Veterans Health Administration hospital.  This is unacceptable!  An audit of the VA uncovered that VA schedulers secretly waitlisted veterans and lied about actual wait times for veterans to receive health care.  On May 30th, then- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki resigned. 

What is even more worrisome is that it seems this was not an isolated incident, but that other VA hospitals across the country have also waitlisted veterans to make wait times appear favorable.    

I am outraged that VA staff compiled secret waitlists, which is why I supported the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act.  This bill now allows veterans to seek care at non-VA health facilities if they have experienced long wait times for care, or if they reside more than 40 miles from their closest VA medical facility.  This legislation also allows the VA to fire corrupt or incompetent senior managers at the VA.

Rest assured that I will continue to work to ensure that all veterans are able to receive timely, efficient, quality health care.  

A NOTE TO OUR VETERANS: Should you have any concerns or questions with your eligibility for a Veteran’s Choice Card, please contact my local district office in Plano at (469) 304-0382. 

Health Savings Accounts (HSA) for Veterans

A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a great tool to help individuals and families save and pay for health care expenses, and likewise an HSA is increasingly becoming a part of many health insurance plans. Unfortunately the IRS had previously decreed that veterans couldn’t make and/or receive contributions to an HSA for three months after receiving health care services through the Veterans Administration (VA) for a service-connected disability. As a result, veterans and their families were being denied the use of this important health care savings tool.

Our veterans shouldn’t be put between a rock and a hard place. This choice is unfair and just wrong – and our veterans deserve better! This is why on May 21, 2015 I reintroduced the Help Veterans Save for Health Care Act. This bill would allow U.S. veterans with service-connected disabilities to remain eligible for an HSA. You will be pleased to know that on July 29, 2015, the House passed my bill as part of H.R. 3236 and this legislation was signed into law on July 31, 2015. I was proud to pass this bill into law for our brave service-disabled veterans.

VETERAN EDUCATION: Post 9/11 GI Bill

The Post-9/11 GI Bill is critical for two primary reasons: it helps service members transition to public life after their active duty service, and it also strengthens the nation’s military because it helps to attract quality recruits who are interested in earning an education.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides educational benefits to all members of the military who have served on active duty since September 11, 2001, including activated reservists and National Guardsmen. Under this law, service members leaving active duty will receive up to 36 months of education benefits, including stipends for housing and books. Veterans have up to 15 years after they leave active duty service to use their education benefits. The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill also allows veterans the flexibility to use their benefits for program fees, tuition, books, and housing.


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Overdue and Replacement Medals

As a Member of Congress who served in the U.S. Air Force, I consider it a great honor to present long-overdue medals to veterans.  If you are entitled to military service medals you have not yet received, please contact my Plano office at (469) 304-0382.  Veterans needing assistance with personal medals, campaign medals, or service medals will need to turn over a COPY of their DD214 to my office.

Typically veterans will seek a replacement medal or ribbon if they lost them in a move.  In some cases, veterans earned a service medal and did not know that they rated the new commendation because they had moved on to a new duty station or left military service before the medal commendation could be awarded.   For more information about replacement medals, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

Help with a Federal Agency

If you are experiencing a problem with a federal agency, and live in the 3rd Congressional District of Texas, I can act on your behalf as a facilitator between you and the agency in an effort to resolve the issue.

In instances where you would like my help, this is considered "casework." My staff and I will open a case on your behalf and work to help you with the federal agency.  Although my staff cannot override a decision or compel a particular outcome regarding your concern, they will do their best to assist you.  For more information and to submit a casework request, visit the Casework page on my website HERE.

Frequently Asked Questions

For information about Frequently Asked Questions regarding veterans issues, please visit the FAQ page on my website HERE.

 

RECOGNIZING VETERANS

Congressional Veterans Commendation Ceremony

North Texas is home to fine Americans and exceptional veterans.  To honor our community’s brave veterans’ service and sacrifice, I am proud to host the annual Congressional Veteran Commendation (CVC) for the Third District of Texas.  This nominations-based program is designed to publicly recognize the wartime sacrifices and peacetime community involvement of veterans.  The CVC also works to preserve these veterans’ stories for future generations of Americans. 

If you would like to nominate a veteran living in Collin County, please visit CVC page on my website HERE

Korean War Memorial Wall of Remembrance

As a veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam wars, I believe it is vital to ensure future generations know and appreciate the sacrifices of America’s brave servicemen and women.

Because the Korean War is often forgotten and America’s memorial for this Forgotten War is incomplete, on March 19th, 2015 I introduced the Korean War Veterans Memorial Wall of Remembrance Act. This bill would permit a Wall of Remembrance to be added to the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Wall would list the names of all members of the U.S. Armed Forces who gave their lives in support of freedom during the Korean War. It would also list the number of all American POWs and MIAs from the Korean War. I am pleased to report that on October 7th, 2016, this bill was signed into law!  My fellow Korean War veterans and I eagerly await construction on the Wall of Remembrance.  With it, our many fallen comrades in arms will be eternally honored in our Nation's capital. Notably, this Wall of Remembrance will be entirely privately funded. No taxpayer dollars would be spent on this addition!

Congressional Gold Medal: America’s Fighter Aces

We are the Land of the Free because of the brave men and women in our Armed Services.  One of the most rare and elite groups within our Armed Forces are the men and women who make up the American “Fighter Aces” – fighter pilots with five or more confirmed aerial combat victories.  While over 60,000 U.S. military fighter pilots have taken to air, less than 1,500 have been honored with the coveted status of “Fighter Ace.”

Now I am not an “Ace,” but I had the honor to serve with several of them.  These heroes valiantly defended freedom around the globe, and their efforts and skill have shortened wars and saved lives.  To honor this group of rare individuals, I introduced a resolution to award them with Congress’ highest honor: the Congressional Gold Medal.   This resolution was signed into law in 2014, and on May 20th, 2015, it was my privilege to help present the Congressional Gold Medal to many of America’s “Fighter Aces” at a special ceremony at the United States Capitol.

Valentines for Vets

Across the country, thousands of veterans are hospitalized in medical centers operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  Many times, these special men and women are away from their family and friends for long periods of time.  That is why each year I ask students and teachers in Collin County for their help in creating valentines for our veterans that will then be picked up by my staff.  There is typically a ceremony at one of our local elementary schools, and I will then hand-deliver the heart-felt messages to veterans at the Dallas VA Medical Center on behalf of our students. 

This program is an excellent opportunity to teach young students about freedom and military service.  It also provides us the chance to say “thank you” to those who we can never thank enough for their service and sacrifice. 

Veterans History Project

Throughout America, and particularly in the Lone Star State which is home to the second highest veteran’s population in the country, there are millions of veterans with a wealth of unique memories and perspectives from their years of service in the U.S. Armed Forces.   

To gather and preserve those memories for future generations, the Library of Congress launched the Veterans History Project.  I strongly encourage all veterans of all wars to participate in this exciting effort to capture first-person accounts of wartime experiences.

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