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Perry: Texas veterans' benefits to be expanded by state

Texas veterans could be in line to receive faster, better care, even outside of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Gov. Rick Perry announced on June 12 that the state will provide care for veterans at local health facilities if those servicemembers cannot access timely treatment through that federal system. The veterans' benefits plan is now being pitched for approval. National legislators have passed bills that would provide additional health care for veterans who cannot get quick treatment through the VA, or who simply live too far away from a VA clinic.

Veterans throughout Texas experience some of the longest wait times in the country, according to a recently released federal report. Perry said this fact makes it clear that veterans deserve additional support for their war-related injuries and other care. So far, a variety of medical providers have signed on to the state-specific plan. Those include Baylor Scott and White, along with University of Texas System hospitals and Christus.

Perry seems optimistic that the expanded legislation will help Texas' 1.7 million military veterans. The new program is designed to help veterans who have suffered from all types of ailments, but a privately funded facility is being specially built for those who have survived brain injury and deal with post-traumatic stress. For now, the state of Texas is providing its own system, until the national legislation can reach full approval.

Our nation's veterans deserve to be treated with respect and consideration at the VA. If that is not possible, then the state must step up to assist these loyal heroes. Military veterans should not have to suffer because of legislators' inability to effectively oversee their own departments.

Source: The Texas Tribune, "Perry Proposes Fix for Texas Veterans' Health Care" Gilad Edelman, Jun. 12, 2014

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