This week, Veterans Day marks a time to remember that the peace we enjoy is purchased at the heavy price of our brave veterans’ many sacrifices. There are over 55,300 veterans in Texas 12, and Tarrant County is home to the fourth highest population of veterans among all Texas counties. I’m grateful to represent a community that values our veterans as much as I do and am dedicated to making sure that none of them are ever forgotten.
I made it a priority to ensure that this fiscal year, we continue to invest in veterans’ mental health services, suicide prevention, and homeless programs, as well as the VA’s new electronic health record system and other improvements to make the processing of veterans’ disability claims more efficient. To help address the need for additional VA healthcare facilities, I personally petitioned the Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie to acquire the closed Baylor Scott & White Hospital in Garland. This year, the VA announced plans to transform the empty hospital space into our region’s newest VA clinic, capable of serving as many as 200,000 local veterans.
In addition to the VA, many local organizations and nonprofits help our veterans navigate civilian life, transition into post-military careers, and overcome service-related health challenges. The newest of these veterans service organizations opens its gates this weekend in Decatur. Valor Ranch was started by Keri Wilcox, a widow, mother, daughter, sister, and granddaughter of veterans. Knowing firsthand how much veterans have sacrificed for us, Keri is on a mission to help veterans like her loved ones who paid a high price in the fight for freedom. Many veterans face new battles after returning to the home front, but the fastest growing group of veterans—female veterans— face especially unique challenges. Many female veterans face increased financial difficulty and struggle with finding a group of supportive peers. Valor Ranch was started by Keri to provide a safe environment for female veterans to stay for up to a year. Those staying on the Ranch will have access to traditional and non-traditional therapies, from counseling to equine therapy, amid a supportive group of fellow female veterans also writing the next chapters of their stories.
However you spend this Veterans Day, remember that we owe the freedoms that make America the greatest country in the world to our veterans and to our national commitment to a strong military. I’m looking forward to carrying out one of my highest honors this week: making tomorrow’s military leaders by nominating some of Texas 12’s fine young people to attend a U.S. military service academy.
I’m proud to provide award-winning constituent services to veterans and to have two active duty Airmen and two veterans on my staff. Our veterans and military members represent the best of us, and they deserve nothing short of our unwavering support—today, and every day.