Abbott unveils plan to boost health care, opportunities for veterans


Gov. Greg Abbott used Veterans Day as an opportunity to lay out proposals to help Texas veterans.

Abbott also called for doubling the size of the Texas State Guard and creating a committee on base closings.

In a Veterans Day appearance at the American Legion-Charles Johnson House in West Austin, Gov. Greg Abbott Saturday unveiled a series of proposals to boost economic opportunities and health care outcomes for Texas veterans.

“Our veterans, those who have fought on the front lines deserve to go to the front of the line when it comes to accessing opportunity in the United States of America,” Abbott said in front of a crowd of a couple of hundred supporters.

Abbott was introduced by his older brother, Bud Abbott, a Navy veteran, at the event, at which Abbott also submitted the paperwork to place his name on the March primary ballot for-re-election.

To encourage hiring of veterans, Abbott proposed that a local option be provided for commercial property tax exemptions for each full-time, newly-hired veteran. He also proposed a local option property tax exemption of up to $30,000 for veteran entrepreneurs starting a business.

Abbott also said that, “Texas should accept licenses that are earned by military spouses in other states and waive license fees they already qualify for.”

READ: As Abbott files for re-election, Democrats in disarray

Abbott called on the Texas Veterans Commission “to collaborate with businesses and non-profits to assist homeless veterans with housing, with employment, with better health and with substance abuse counseling.”

“I am proposing a commercial property tax exemption for entities that provide reduced-cost housing or substance abuse and mental health residential treatment programs to our veterans,” Abbott said.

Abbott also called for full funding of the mental health program for Texas veterans in the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

“I also want to see more done to unclog the backlog in the VA health care system,” Abbott said. “The VA health care system is a national disgrace. Texas cannot and will not wait on the federal government to provide the health care that veterans need and deserve.”

The governor wants to provide increased funding to the Texas Veterans Commission to work to reduce the wait time for care.

Abbott said he would continue to press Congress and the Trump administration to allow Texas to build a “Texas model “of caring for veterans that would allow Texans’ VA benefits to be used to visit private health care providers.

“Right now the closest hospital to veterans in the Rio Grande Valley is nearly 200 miles away in San Antonio, Texas,” Abbott said. “That is unacceptable.”

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Lone Star Politics page brings Capitol news to your Facebook feed

The governor’s plan would enhance state grants to organizations providing legal services to veterans, and encourage opportunities for state-employed attorneys to offer pro-bono legal services to veterans

The plan also calls for the governor to lead a recruitment drive to double the size of the Texas State Guard to 5,000 to better enable the state to respond to natural disasters and other emergency situations.

And Abbott wants to create a temporary governor’s committee to prepare for potential base closures and realignments.

The committee would be made of 22 Texas veterans, community and business leaders, including three representative each who served as officers at Fort Bliss, Fort Hood and Joint Base San Antonio, and one each from the other military installations in Texas.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Police: Man lured his boss outside of house and shot at him in Austin
Police: Man lured his boss outside of house and shot at him in Austin

A man angry at his boss fired a gun four times at the man and the man’s house in South Austin on Valentine’s Day after saying he was coming over to get some tax documents, an arrest affidavit said. Victor Smith, 30, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Smith...
Woman accused of punching stranger at bus stop for not giving her $1
Woman accused of punching stranger at bus stop for not giving her $1

A woman is accused of punching a stranger who declined to give her a dollar at a bus stop in North Austin and then continuing the attack on the bus, according to an arrest affidavit. April Miller, 37, was charged with assault with injury, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. The victim told police she was at a bus stop at North...
Cyclist Andrew Tilin, author of ‘The Doper Next Door,’ dies in wreck
Cyclist Andrew Tilin, author of ‘The Doper Next Door,’ dies in wreck

An Austin cyclist who had written a book about how supplemental testosterone affected his bike racing performance died Saturday after he was struck by a truck while changing a flat tire on the side of the road. Andrew Tilin, who wrote “The Doper Next Door,” was riding with a group of cyclists from Grupo VOP, a cycling club, along RM 620...
New mural unveiled at 12th and Chicon in Austin
New mural unveiled at 12th and Chicon in Austin

People passing by the mural at 12th and Chicon streets used to be greeted by the immense images of famous black legends Michael Jackson, James Brown and Tupac Shakur. Now, a new mural at the same spot features all of them, plus such Austin household names as musician Gary Clark Jr., East Austin hip hop artist Charles “Nook” Turner and Latin...
Man arrested in stabbing in Southwest Austin, police said
Man arrested in stabbing in Southwest Austin, police said

Update 4:30 p.m.: Austin police have arrested a man accused of stabbing another person during a family disturbance at an apartment complex on Monterey Oaks Boulevard in southwest Austin. The victim, who was male, was taken to the hospital and received life-threatening injuries, said Austin Senior Police Officer Jeremy Bohannon. Police were notified...
More Stories