Military and Veterans
As a native of San Antonio, Joe profoundly appreciates and understands the contribution that members of the military make, both while they are on active duty and after their service. During Joe's time as Speaker, the House has prioritized the needs of active service members, of veterans, and of military communities.
The House has demonstrated this commitment by:
Addressing veterans' health care needs: Throughout his time as Speaker, Joe has worked with his colleagues in the House to improve the quality and availability of health care, including preventative and mental health services, for active and retired service members and their families. In 2017, the Legislature established a trauma-affected veterans clinical care and research center and created a veteran suicide prevention action plan. Additionally, the House has 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 benefits 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: Joe believes a key part of honoring veterans and their service to our country is helping them transition into civilian life. Under Joe's leadership, the House has passed legislation allowing private employers to give veterans preference in employment decisions, created the College Credit for Heroes program, and directed state agencies that issue occupational licenses to waive application and examination fees for qualifying service members, veterans, and military spouses. Finally, the Legislature established 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 their spouses. Additionally, the Legislature has voted to allow disabled veterans who qualify for a residence homestead exemptions to defer property tax collection. The House has also exempted businesses from paying unemployment insurance costs for temporary employees who are filling in for deployed service members.
Supporting military and defense communities: The Legislature has provided critical funding for the Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant Program, which helps defense communities that have been impacted by a change in federal defense contracts.
Assisting veteran-owned businesses: In 2013, the Legislature passed a measure allowing businesses owned by disabled veterans to be classified as "economically disadvantaged" in order to qualify as a Historically Underutilized Business in the state contracting process. In the same session, the Legislature created the Veteran Entrepreneur Program to promote veteran entrepreneurship and business ownership throughout the State.
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.