Update from Congressman Pete Gallego, Nov. 13, 2014

This week, we celebrated Veterans Day. 

For two years, I’ve had the privilege of meeting with members of our community when they come to visit Washington, DC. 

From the White House to the Lincoln Memorial, the area has many great sights that leave a lasting impression. Time and time again I hear the same thing when I ask which memorials have left the most impact upon these visitors.

“The veterans memorials were incredible.”

I am always struck by this answer, but I am never surprised. Members of our community know what a great sacrifice it is to serve our country, and so we all share a profound appreciation for our nation’s heroes. 

It is the duty of every American to ensure that these heroes are taken care of when they return home from defending our freedom.  As a lawmaker, I am so thankful that I have the ability to work directly on behalf of those who have sacrificed so much for our nation.

Veterans Day comes once a year. However, it must be more than a brief reminder of the debt that all of us owe to those who served our country.  Passing words of appreciation are simply not enough.

Although we specifically take this day to honor our veterans, we must work every day to fulfill the sacred promise of taking care of our nation’s heroes.  Fulfilling that obligation is a year-round responsibility. Working to honor our nation’s commitments to our veterans has been one of the great pleasures of my time in office.

During my tenure in Congress, I have led efforts to expand access to healthcare for veterans, reduce the backlog, expand job opportunities for veterans, secure housing for veterans at risk of homelessness, extend the authority of a special committee to advise on veterans education benefits and get faster access to healthcare for military families and wounded warriors.

I am also very proud of my work on behalf of veterans within the 23rd District of Texas. My office worked on behalf of many veterans in the district. As of October 21, 2014, we are honored to have helped Texas veterans recover nearly $1.4 million in VA benefits which were wrongly denied or delayed.

I encourage you to take a moment to thank a veteran for his or her service to our nation. I also urge you to continue to thank our veterans year-round, whether it is through contributing to veterans service organizations or simply spending time with veterans in your community. I’ve taught my son, Nicolás, many things, but one of the most important is to tell every veteran he comes across “Thank you for your service.”