Passing Two Bills to Support Our Veterans

Two substantial pieces of legislation aimed at supporting our veterans in Texas and throughout the country have passed the House of Representatives hours before Veterans Day.

The Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act (H.R. 918) passed the House with bipartisan support. I advocated for the legislation in committee and in front of the full House because it requires the VA to conduct an initial mental health assessment, and provide subsequent critical mental health services to former military personnel who were discharged under other-than-honorable conditions.

Currently, those discharged from service under other-than-honorable conditions are ineligible for such services. The bill also requires the VA to add resources into studying the mental health effects of combat. We need to ensure that our veterans have preventative care, continuous care, and continuity in that care going forward so that we save more of these lives. Given what these veterans laid down for this country, what they have done for the United States, the least we can do is to make sure they have access to the care they have earned.

The bipartisan VALOR Act (H.R. 3949) also passed this afternoon. Last month, I joined Congressmen Ro Khanna (CA-17) and Jodey Arrington (TX-19) to introduce the bipartisan legislation, which will provide military veterans increased access to apprenticeship training programs. Guiding the legislation through the House Veterans Affairs Committee, we ensured that the legislation will streamline how apprenticeship programs located in more than one state are certified.

Making apprenticeships more accessible is always a win-win for our veterans and our businesses. And doing so through the VALOR Act is a golden opportunity to support those transitioning from active duty to civilian life in El Paso, throughout Texas and across the country as they look to build on their skillset for our twenty-first century workforce. But beyond doing what’s right for those who served, the VALOR Act is also a prime example of how we can all work together to make meaningful improvements that fix gaps in our laws and improve services for our veterans.