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Friday, January 25, 2008

Gov. Perry speaks to Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars

Governor Rick Perry (photo)

Gov. Rick Perry thanked members of the Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) for their service to our country and encouraged them to continue playing their key role in the lives of soldiers returning from active duty.

"The Texas VFW plays an important part of our state’s military readiness," said Gov. Perry at the TFW Annual Mid-Winter Round Up. "Not only because their real-life stories of survival encourages our young soldiers fighting today, but also because of the role that they play when our servicemen and women return from overseas and begin integrating themselves back into society."

Today, more than 1.7 million military veterans call Texas home. Many were stationed at one of Texas’ 18 active military bases. Gov. Perry supports providing service men and women returning from war 100 percent disabled with a 100 percent deduction on their property taxes. If implemented today, this initiative would relieve the financial burdens for approximately 7.5 percent of the nation’s disabled veterans.

Additionally, the governor stated support for an initiative currently being considered in Congress to direct the United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) to forgive the debts of service members who have given their lives in defense of our nation since 9/11. The bill was crafted after 22 families in 14 states, including three in Texas, were contacted by the VA to pay a total of $56,000 in debts for educational loans after troops were killed serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last year, Gov. Perry signed into law House Bill 125, which waived tuition and fees at public universities for children of Texas armed forces members who are totally disabled as a result of service. Children of service members who are lost or killed in action already receive this waiver under the Hazelwood Act.

Additional bills signed by Gov. Perry in 2007 include:

  • HB 233, which waives the concealed handgun fee for honorably discharged veterans who were discharged in the last 365 days;
  • HB 1187, which creates a tuition exemption program to allow eligible students to play “Taps” at military funeral services in exchange for a tuition voucher at an institution of higher education in Texas;
  • HB 2105, which allows certain veterans with disabilities to receive two disabled parking placards in addition to two sets of special license plates; and
  • SB 251, which allows a veteran with disabled plates to park in handicap spaces.

Each year, the Texas VFW recognizes and awards more than $250,000 in savings bonds and scholarships to junior and high school students. Three teachers, one from kindergarten-5th grade, 6-8th grade and 9-12th grade, are also honored as Texas VFW Teachers of the Year based on their teaching of citizenship education to their students or special projects that they have done to promote citizenship education in the classroom.

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