MONTH OF NOVEMBER HELPS RECOGNIZE VETERANS
The month of November serves as an occasion for our country and the State of Texas to recognize the service of our men and women. In this week’s article, I would like to take the opportunity to support our veterans and specifically focus on how Texas strives to continue to thank them for their invaluable service.
According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, 1,693,800 veterans call the State of Texas home. Many veterans choose to live here because Texas is one of the leading states in the country when it comes to providing assistance to veterans. Texas veterans are able to utilize numerous resources and programs which are provided through the Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) and the Veterans Land Board (VLB).
The TVC was established in 1927 as the State Service Office and tasked with assisting our state’s veterans. The mission of the TVC has always been to act as the state appointed advocate of Texas veterans as they attempt to secure the benefits rightfully earned in exchange for their service in our nation’s armed forces. They are able to provide this assistance using four programs:
• Claims Representation and Counseling serves veterans, their dependents and survivors, in all matters pertaining to veterans’ disability benefits and rights. It is the designated agency of the state of Texas to represent the State and its veterans before the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
• Veterans Employment Services offers employment services to Texas veterans and helps employers find qualified veteran job applicants. The goal of these services is to match veteran job seekers with the best employment opportunities available.
• Veterans Education Program approves all programs for federal educational benefits. Through an approval process, the Texas Veterans Commission ensures that institutions and employers are in compliance with federal guidelines and are qualified to provide the type of training offered.
• Texas Veterans Commission Fund for Veterans’ Assistance is a program that makes grants available to eligible charitable organizations, local government agencies, and Veterans Service Organizations that provide direct services to Texas veterans and their families.
The VLB was created in 1946, and through the Veterans’ Land Program, it was directed by the legislature to purchase land for which would then be resold to Texas veterans. Throughout the years, the VLB’s bonding authority has been increased in order to provide additional assistance. In 1983, the Veterans’ Housing Assistance Program was created to assist Texas veterans in purchasing a home. In 1986, this program was expanded to provide qualifying Texas veterans with loans for home repairs and improvements to existing homes.
Today, Texas veterans can use all three loan programs (land, home purchase, and home repair) at one time. These programs are not associated with the federal VA. This means, that even if a Texas veteran has used his/her VA benefits, eligibility in a state loan program may still be available. If you’d like to learn more about the loan programs offered by the Veterans Land Board, you can call the board toll free at 1-800-252-VETS (8387).
In addition to the aforementioned programs and services, the Texas Legislature and the citizens of Texas in recent years have voted on and approved several measures which have expanded upon the assistance these and other state agencies can offer. This year the 82nd Legislature unanimously passed Senate Joint Resolution 14, which is a proposed amendment on the November 8th ballot, to the Texas Constitution which would extend the 100% disabled veterans property tax exemption to surviving spouses.
Veterans truly deserve all the appreciation and assistance our great state can provide and it is with that that I offer my own personal thanks and gratitude for their dedicated and tremendous service to the United States and to Texas. If you would like more information on the services discussed in this article, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol Office at 512-463-0672 or the District Office at 361-949-4603.