Our Promise To Our Heroes

As the son of a veteran, I am personally dedicated to looking out for the interests of all military personnel, active and retired, who call Texas home. The honor-bound agreement between our men and women in uniform and our nation does not end at retirement. No veteran should ever be forgotten.

Senator John Cornyn

Senator Cornyn learned the value of patriotic service to our country from his father who spent 31 years in the military, beginning as a B-17 pilot in World War II.  Growing up in an Air Force family and moving from base to base, Sen. Cornyn saw firsthand the sacrifices made by those who dedicate themselves to defending freedom at home and abroad. 
 
Senator Cornyn knows our nation can never do enough to repay those who have selflessly served and sacrificed for our country.  He is committed to making certain that our nation’s active duty, National Guard, and Reserve military forces receive the best training, equipment, and education, and that our veterans receive the highest-quality health care, services, and benefits they so rightly deserve. 
 
Texas is home to almost one in every 12 U.S. service members, as well as 15 major military installations and several defense production facilities that manufacture critical military aircraft vital to sustaining American air superiority.  These programs are good for Texas and good for America, providing thousands of high-paying jobs while producing the tools our military needs to dominate the modern battlefield and keep our nation safe. 
 
  • Led the fight in Congress to recognize the November 9, 2009 attack at Fort Hood as an act of terrorism and ensure that the victims and families receive the same treatment, benefits, and honors—including the Purple Heart—as Americans killed or wounded in an overseas combat zone.  These heroes and their families received Purple Hearts and became eligible for these benefits in April 2015.
  • Is an Original Cosponsor of the Prioritizing Veterans Access to Mental Health Care Act of 2017 (S.1881, 115th Congress), which helps veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress, mental health issues, or traumatic brain injuries receive the timely and essential care they deserve.
  • Introduced the Protection of Military Airfields from Wind Turbine Encroachment Act (S.201; 115th Congress), which removes all eligibility for the renewable electricity production tax credit (PTC) and the business energy investment tax credit (ITC) for new wind turbine projects located within a 30-mile radius of an active military airfield, a military air traffic control radar site, or a weather radar site.
  • Introduced the Jobs for Our Heroes Act (S.1393; 115th Congress), which would streamline the process by which active duty military, reservists, and veterans receive commercial driver’s licenses.
  • Is an Original Cosponsor of the Veterans Treatment Court Improvements Act of 2017 (S.946; 115th Congress) which requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to hire at least 50 Veterans Justice Outreach Specialists, place each into an eligible VA medical center, and ensure that each serves as part of a justice team in a veterans treatment court or other veteran-focused court.  
  • Is an Original Cosponsor of  the Reserve Component Benefits Parity Act (S. 667; 115th Congress), which ensures reserve component members who are deployed to support pre-planned operations of a combatant command are eligible for pre-mobilization health care, transitional health care, and are considered for reduced age for retired pay pending active duty service.
  • Introduced the Sinai Service Recognition Act (S.704; 115th Congress). This bill categorizes the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt as a qualified hazardous duty area thereby affording members of the Armed Services who serve there the same tax benefits as though they were serving in a combat zone.
  • Is an Original Cosponsor of the Veterans Education Improvement Act of 2017 (S.1356; 115th Congress), which would authorize the use of Post-9/11 Educational Assistance to pursue independent study programs at certain educational institutions that are not institutions of higher learning—such as vocational or technical education programs. 
  • Introduced the Dust Off Crews of the Vietnam War Congressional Gold Medal Act (S.1338; 115th Congress), which recognizes pilots and their crewmembers who served during the Vietnam War. These individuals were heroic Americans who regularly operated with unwavering dedication to the preservation of human life and sacred American values through their indomitable courage, extraordinary action, and sound judgment under fire.
  • Is an Original Cosponsor of the Care Veterans Deserve Act of 2016 (S.2896; 114th Congress), which improves upon the VA Choice Card program and refines VA procedures to enhance the level and availability of care to veterans.
  • Introduced legislation (S.1534; 114th Congress) to provide veterans in far South Texas with a full-service VA inpatient health care facility.
  • Is an Original Cosponsor of the Hire More Heroes Act of 2015 (S.12; 114th Congress) to exempt post-9/11 veterans, who already receive health coverage through the Department of Defense or Department of Veterans Affairs, from Obamacare’s employer mandate’s 50 employee threshold. 
  • Introduced legislation to strengthen existing military voting laws and address difficulties that have prevented service members from voting in the last two federal election cycles—the Safeguarding Elections for our Nation’s Troops through Reforms and Improvements (SENTRI) Act (S.1728; 113th Congress).  
 
  • Voted for S. 1519, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 in the 115th Congress, which included an amendment authored by Sen. Cornyn that empowers the Department of Defense and Secretary of Defense siting clearinghouse to provide for greater pilot safety and helps preserve military readiness.
  • Supported the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-41), which established the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection and increased protections for whistleblowers to improve the accountability of employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Voted for S. 2943, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 in the 114th Congress.
  • Voted for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (P.L.114-92) in the 114th Congress.
  • Voted in favor of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill (H.R.2029) in the 114th Congress, which included an amendment authored by Sen. Cornyn requiring the Veterans Affairs Secretary to provide Congress with a plan to address the long wait times for veterans seeking health care at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System.
  • Supported the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act of 2015 (S.993; 114th Congress), which authorizes the Attorney General to award grants for veterans treatment court programs, services to veterans who have been incarcerated, and training programs for others to identify and respond to incidents involving veterans.
  • Supported the Veterans Health Care Facilities Capital Improvement Act (P.L.112-37, 112th Congress), which reauthorized a number of important services for homeless veterans and low-income veteran families.
  • Supported the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act (P.L.112-154, 112th Congress), which improved access to VA services for veterans living in rural areas, expanded nursing home care for elderly and severely service-disabled veterans, and expanded individualized rehabilitation and reintegration services for veterans with traumatic brain injuries.
  • Supported the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act (P.L.111-346, 111th Congress), which expanded post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to include active service performed by National Guard members on state orders; increased reimbursement for licenses, certification tests, and fees to take admissions exams; and expanded GI Bill benefits to include on-the-job and apprenticeship training, flight programs, and distance learning.
  • Supported the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act (P.L.111-97, 111th Congress), protecting military spouses with regard to residency, voting, and taxation as they move from state to state with their service member.

Texas Veterans Initiative

Improving Veterans' Access to Health Care

  • For too long, our veterans have faced countless hurdles to accessing VA health care, especially when it comes to dealing with long wait times at VA facilities.
  • Senator Cornyn introduced The Veterans’ Health Care Integrity Act of 2017 (S.1163, 115th Congress) to hold the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs accountable by increasing congressional oversight and forcing compliance with the VA’s own scheduling benchmarks and rules.
  • This bill requires each VA medical facility director to annually certify (under penalty of perjury) compliance with the VA’s scheduling Directive, which provides explicit guidelines and timetables for appointment scheduling. 
  • If local VA health officials do not comply with these requirements, Senator Cornyn’s legislation will prohibit them from receiving awards or bonuses.
  • This bill ensures the VA complies with its own policies, enhances Congress’s ability to conduct oversight, and strengthens the accountability mechanisms in place to ensure senior VA officials are focused on delivering timely service to our veterans. 

Access to Mental Health Care

  • Veterans are continuously affected by access to timely mental health treatment from non-VA providers.
  • In an attempt to combat a growing population that requires immediate mental health care, Senator Cornyn joined Senator Ernst to introduce legislation, the Prioritizing Veterans Access to Mental Health Care Act of 2017 (S.1881, 115th Congress), which would expand access to timely mental health care for veterans, and prioritize hiring incentives to address the need for mental health professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health care professionals.
  • The legislation provides a veteran the ability to seek non-VA mental health care treatment immediately.
  • It eliminates the 40-mile and VA wait time “triggers” for mental health care that were established under the Choice Act. Additionally, it ensures that if a non-VA mental health care professional can reach a veteran at any time earlier than the average wait time for VA mental health appointments the veteran is afforded the non-VA service.

Incentivizing Law Enforcement Agencies to Hire Veterans

  • Senator Cornyn believes our veterans have valuable skills that can keep our communities safe, so he introduced the American Law Enforcement Heroes Act (P.L. 115-37), which became law on June 2, 2017, to incentivize state and local law enforcement agencies to hire U.S. veterans.
  • Not only does this law support our military veterans’ transition to civilian life, but it also helps the law enforcement agencies charged with protecting our communities hire highly trained men and women.
  • This law prioritizes U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant applications of state and local law enforcement agencies who use that funding to hire military veterans and was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Enabling Veterans to Better Plan for Their Future

  • Under current law, service members are limited in how they can save for retirement through both their pension and personal retirement plan.
  • While the 2015 Defense Authorization bill created a first-ever financial match from the military to veterans' retirement contributions, the IRS caps the amount veterans can save through their civilian jobs. 
  • Senator Cornyn introduced The Servicemember Retirement Improvement Act (S.492; 115th Congress) to fix that problem by allowing veterans to contribute the maximum to both their civilian and military retirement plans.
  • A coalition of military service organizations including the Association of the United States Army, Military Officers Association of America, National Guard Association of the U.S., and the Retired Enlisted Association support this bill.

Holding VA Management Accountable

  • For years, the VA has struggled under mismanagement and a severe lack of accountability of its senior officials - all at the expense of veterans who are unable to receive the quality care they deserve. The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 will make the VA work better for the men and women who have sacrificed for our country. 
  • This legislation ensures appropriate due process protections for whistleblowers and improves the accountability of VA employees by authorizing the VA Secretary to reprimand, suspend, reassign, demote, or terminate any senior VA official charged with misconduct or poor performance.
  • Senator Cornyn is committed to eliminating problems at the VA through this and other legislation.

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