Hurd on the Hill/Staff Report

Ensuring Jobs for our Nation's Heroes

In last week’s Hurd on the Hill column, you heard from Jon Arnold, our Veterans Affairs and Military liaison staffer. For more than a year and a half, Jon has been working hard on behalf of the Veterans in the 23rd Congressional District of Texas, helping them to receive the benefits they earned while serving our nation. What Jon did not mention is his own ten years of service and sacrifice in the United States Army and the drive he has to make sure our nation’s heroes are not left behind in a never-ending sea of bureaucratic red-tape.  

Jon is a great example of many of the Veterans who leave military service and then look for ways to continue serving in our communities. Another example is Ruben Gutierrez, Jr., a name that the community of Del Rio is familiar with. His wife, Carmen Gutierrez, has served as my Field Representative in Del Rio for almost two years, but she and her husband have served the city of Del Rio for much longer. But before that, SGT Ruben Gutierrez spent four years serving our nation in the U.S. Marine Corps. 

Another role model is retired United States Air Force Master Sergeant Jose Martinez, who served for twenty-six years. His time in the Air Force was distinctive and he was recognized with the Meritorious Service Medal and was named Outstanding Air Force Executive Support Superintendent of the Year, among several other awards. But Martinez did not end his service when he left the military. The community of Del Rio is well aware of the time and resources he has poured into their town and his special focus on helping other Veterans and their families. 

There are many other Veterans we could point to who have ended their time in the military, but continued their service in their local communities. Unfortunately, not every Veteran story goes in that direction. We are all aware of the number of Veterans who struggle to find purpose and employment once they leave the military. Far too many face unemployment and homelessness as they fall through the cracks and their needs go unaddressed. We need to do more to ensure Veterans in our communities never have to suffer in this way.

While there are many local individuals, families and organizations that work very hard to assist Veterans, there is certainly a role for Congress in this as well. During my time serving as your Representative, I have had the privilege to sponsor several pieces of legislation that help Veterans find work. In some cases we have ensured that Veteran’s receive credit and certification for the skills they learned while serving, making it easier for the private sector to identify and recruit talent. Some legislation has sought to help Veterans become entrepreneurs by setting aside special grants and loans, offering them the financial assistance they need to get started. 

Beyond technical skills though, we have worked to highlight the leadership and managerial skills that so many veterans have. That is why I am excited to announce that Senator John Cornyn and I will introduce a new bill this fall which will do even more to help our nation’s Veterans better transition into meaningful civilian careers. The American Law Enforcement Act will incentivize the hiring of Veterans as law enforcement officers by prioritizing federal grants at the local and state level. So many of our Veterans are already trained for this kind of work and are looking for ways to serve their community. The new bill will create a win-win scenario for all involved by helping Veterans make this transition, while helping law enforcement attract well-qualified talent. 

Our freedom and way of life is due to the sacrifice of these Veterans and their families. This Veteran’s Day, I want to do more than just tell them how thankful I am for their service.  I’m excited to show them by continuing to work hard for them in Congress.