So many veterans have planned their lives around the benefits promised to them as service members and they should not be forced to bear the weight of balancing our Nation's budget on their backs. We cannot afford to break our promises of retirement and health security they earned. We must ensure that military spouses and their families are not burdened when a service member makes the ultimate sacrifice defending our country. In the last congressional session, I was a sponsor of the Military Surviving Spouses Act, legislation to end the so-called “Widow’s Tax.”
Despite the COVID pandemic, Congress, with my strong support, has provided veterans additional flexibility regarding their education benefits. If you have a question about Veterans Administration (VA) benefits, would like to apply for benefits, have a question about your application, or believe that the Department of Veterans Affairs has not given your case proper consideration, please contact (210) 704-1080 (my San Antonio office) or (512) 916-5921 (my Austin office).
Helping Veterans Get the Care They Need
After hearing from some of our neighbors about the need for additional care for our veterans in Central Texas, I worked to ensure that the new Austin Outpatient Clinic (AOC) became a reality. The facility in Texas became the largest veterans' clinic of its kind anywhere in America, with triple the size of the old clinic and double the clinic staff. If any veteran represented by me feels they are not getting the VA care they earned, please let me know so I can help.
Some are determined to privatize the VA; I believe this would be a mistake. Such a dramatic change would shift more health care costs to veterans and alter a unique service for those who have served our country. I stand with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Disabled Americans Veterans, American Legion and many others who say: Fix it, don’t break or sabotage it.
Ensuring our veterans' prompt access to quality healthcare has long been one of my top priorities. More than 13 million veterans receive some form of health care coverage outside the Veterans Administration (VA) – and so depend on our strengthening the Affordable Care Act. Eleven million veterans rely on Medicare and another two million are enrolled in Medicaid – any changes to these critical programs could negatively impact our courageous vets.
Ending Veteran Homelessness
I joined Austin Mayor Steve Adler, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, and Manuel “Manny” Moran, a formerly homeless veteran of our U.S. Army, in announcing that Austin has eliminated homelessness for our veterans. Austin joined other Texas cities, including San Antonio, in eliminating homelessness for veterans. We understand that those who undertook grave risk to life and limb to keep us safe deserve to have a roof over their head. While they may have had to live on the hard ground in a tent while on duty overseas, it should not become a permanent way of life back home.