Military and Veterans
As a native of San Antonio, Joe profoundly appreciates and understands the contribution that members of the military make during and after their service on active duty. During Joe's time as Speaker, the House has consistently prioritized the needs of members of the military, of veterans, and of military communities.
The House has demonstrated this commitment by:
Addressing veterans' health care needs. In the 2015 session, the House focused on improving preventive services and mental health services available to veterans and their families. The House has also provided assistance for military men and women who suffer severe burns in the line of duty, many of whom are treated at the San Antonio Military Medical Center. And in 2012, when there was a severe backlog of federal claims in Texas, Joe worked with other state leaders to provide extra funding to get veterans the services they needed.
Helping veterans transition into the workforce. The Legislature created the College Credit for Heroes program that allows military personnel to receive academic or workforce education credit for experience obtained during their military service. Legislators have also directed state agencies that issue occupational licenses to waive application and examination fees for qualifying service members, veterans, and military spouses, and they have waived residency requirements for U.S. military service members applying for a commercial driver’s license. Finally, the Legislature established in 2015 the Texas Women Veterans Program to help women navigate some of the unique challenges they face upon entering the workforce. More women veterans live in Bexar County than in any other county in Texas.
Providing tax relief to veterans and their families. Under Joe's leadership, the House has passed numerous provisions granting property-tax exemptions to disabled veterans and surviving spouses in order to help these brave heroes and their families stay in their homes. The House has also exempted businesses from paying unemployment insurance costs for temporary employees who are filling in for service members who have been deployed. And legislation that became law in 2015 provides an exemption from the franchise tax and some filing fees for businesses owned by veterans during an initial period of operation.
Supporting military and defense communities. The Legislature allotted $30 million for Governor Abbott's Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant Program, which helps defense communities that have been positively or negatively impacted by a change in defense contracts. Funding can also be used proactively to support installations in the event of a change or announced change by the Department of Defense.
Assisting veteran-owned businesses. In 2013, the Legislature ensured that veterans who have suffered at least a 20 percent service-connected disability could be classified as "economically disadvantaged" in order to qualify as a Historically Underutilized Business in the state contracting process.
Honoring fallen heroes. Legislation passed in 2015 awarded the Texas Purple Heart Medal to members of the military who were victims of the Fort Hood terror attack in 2009.