Left: Rep. Hinojosa meets with veterans after the Congressional Listening Session on Veterans’ Health Care, September 1, 2011.
Our nation’s veterans have been willing to sacrifice everything to serve their country. Unfortunately, the federal government has not always shown this same commitment and has broken its promises to these veterans. Congressman Hinojosa has worked to improve access to health care and other services for the veterans of South Texas and believes the US government should fulfill its obligations.
For three years in a row, Congressman Hinojosa voted for a veterans’ budget that exceeds the funding requested by the Independent Budget -- a budget developed by veteran’s organizations throughout the county. In addition, Congressman Hinojosa voted for legislation that will forward fund veterans health care to allow the VA to meet the needs of the growing veteran population in a more timely and efficient manner. In the 111th Congress, he worked to ensure that the unique needs of our women veteran’s are being met through additional funding and through changes in the VA medical system. He also voted for H.R. 3155 that will provide training, outreach and counseling to family members and other caregivers who have quit jobs, delayed schooling, and made other difficult sacrifices to provide care for injured veterans.
From 2007 through 2010, the Democratic-controlled Congress made historic progress for veterans, ranging from the New GI Bill to provide returning troops with the promise of a college education to strengthening health care for over 5 million veterans. And we are working to create jobs for our veterans, recently enacting President Obama’s veterans hiring initiative, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, to expand job opportunities for our veterans through tax credits for businesses that hire service members and those with service-related disabilities, and provide veterans with the training they need to find a job in civilian life.
For many years, the veterans in the 15th Congressional District had limited access to health care and were forced to travel to Audie Murphy Hospital in San Antonio for service. As a result of pressure from Congressman Hinojosa, his colleagues and veterans’ organizations throughout the region, the VA agreed to expand services through a new multi-story medical facility in Harlingen and through expansion of the clinics in McAllen and Corpus Christi. The new VA Medical Center in Harlingen opened on February 25, 2011. With its six high tech surgical rooms and expanded services, it will provide high quality care to the region’s veterans. In addition, through his efforts, the region also has a new veterans’ nursing home and cemetery to meet the needs of veterans in the community. Additionally, the VA has renegotiated contracts for inpatient and emergency services to ensure that veterans will no longer have any out-of-pocket costs. The VA has also created a new Texas Valley Coastal Bend Region with a separate director and separate funding stream, separate from San Antonio to better serve South Texas veterans.
In his continuing effort to bring a full-service VA hospital to South Texas, Congressman Hinojosa has held a series of enrollment fairs to increase the number of South Texas veterans using the current VA system. Increased use by every eligible veteran will help justify to the VA the need for a hospital in the region. In addition, he has brought Congressional leaders to see firsthand the challenges our veterans face in obtaining quality health care. In the 112th Congress he is sponsoring a bi-partisan, bi-cameral bill, H.R. 837, to complete the final steps in bringing a full-service hospital to the region.