Growing up in a military family, I know the personal sacrifices members of the military and their loved ones make. The military tradition of my family dates all the way to my great grandfather Epi Pacheco, who fought in the Spanish-American War. My grandfather Celso Griego was a soldier in World War I and my uncle Jose was a gunner aboard the U.S.S. San Juan during World War II. More immediately, my dad was an Airman during the Korean War. I have a sister who is a retired Army major, a brother who served in the 82nd Airborne, a brother-in-law who retired from Air Force Special Operations, and two nieces currently on active duty.
I humbly believe with all of my heart that we have a solemn obligation to honor our promise to our veterans and returning heroes; that they don't have to fight for jobs when they come home. Unfortunately, here's a sobering statistic: One million veterans living in the U.S. remain out of work, including nearly 14,000 veterans in New Mexico. That's entirely unacceptable.
That's why Congress should move quickly to pass President Obama's veterans jobs bill, which passed the Senate yesterday and now faces a vote in the House. Speaker Boehner and the Republican Congress shouldn't play political games and pass the bill.
But it's more than about just jobs. It's also about healthcare, education, housing, job training.
That's why, as Congressman I will also fight for:
· Full funding for VA hospitals, improved rural area access to VA hospitals and clinics, and cutting bureaucratic red tape to expedite care delivery.
· Improved treatment access to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental and physical disabilities.
· Increased funding for veterans facilities to reduce veteran homelessness.
· Educational and job opportunities for veterans and their families, and guarantee federal government support for all veterans who wish to go to college and support stronger preferential hiring practices in the public sector for veterans.
· Changes to the Concurrent Retirement and Disability Payments (CRDP) so that no deserving active or reserve serviceman or woman is denied retirement and disability benefits.