Happy June everyone! Well, as the primary elections are now over, voters
have made decisions on important election races all around our state. Some commissioners court member races have been decided, since some candidates have no opponent in November. I hope we will all graciously welcome every new member to our organization and lend a helping hand whenever possible.
Wow, what a great and fun conference the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association conducted this past month. The officers did a fantastic job in putting together a wonderful and educational meeting with informative speakers, and Ector County Judge Susan Redford and the Ector County Commissioners Court, once again, did an outstanding job in hosting everyone. Don’t know about you, but I came away with a few extra pounds. The food was just too good to pass up, and there sure was plenty of it. Great job everyone!
One last thing about the conference: I met some absolutely wonderful individuals. It was great to talk to and get to know many people from different parts of our state and learn about the issues they are dealing with in their counties. Many of the issues were the same, while others were different. Big county or little, we all deal with some of the same issues such as water, roads, and over-crowded county facilities. It’s really great to learn from each other.
Not certain about your county, but Hays County has a large number of veterans, and providing them the services they need and deserve is important to me and our commissioners court. We have taken great effort to make certain we address veterans’ needs by supporting our great Hays County Veteran Services Office and our veterans service officer (VSO).
Texas law requires counties with more than 200,000 population to have a VSO. Hays County is not required to have a VSO, but we have chosen to do so in order to take care of our veterans and their spouses, widows and dependents. In 2010, there were 10,945 veterans residing in Hays County with more than $49 million in veteran’s benefits coming into our county that same year. Those earned benefits – pensions, compensation, home loans and GI bills – have a positive impact on local economies and communities.
In 2011, our Hays County Veteran Services Office helped 1,765 veterans and dependents receive their benefits, and with TxDOT grants, our veteran’s transportation service helped 469 veterans get to their appointments at the VA hospitals in San Antonio.
Texas State University, located in our county seat of San Marcos, had more than 2,100 veterans and dependents this past semester and was ranked the 13th Most Veteran-friendly School by GI Magazine. Many of these veterans have recently returned from the battlefield, some with multiple deployments, and we must take care of our veterans returning home from war. The Hays County Veteran Services Office has a permanent outreach staff including interns from Texas State.
We are also currently identifying Hays County World War II and Korean War veterans for a video documentary that will be submitted to the Library of Congress. It is important that we record their stories for our own historic preservation before it is too late. This project is titled “Save Our History.”
Lastly, I sponsored an agenda item, which passed unanimously, to take excess county computers and accessories to create a Veterans Resource Center. This Center is located within our Veteran Services Office and allows veterans to search for employment, scan documents, create resumes, and assist with any other computer resource they may need. We hope this will provide a “one-stop-shop” for our veterans’ needs.
Hope this has been helpful. Many blessings, and I hope to see you in San Antonio June 18-21 for the South Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association Annual Conference.