By State Representative Tan Parker
With the arrival of November, we turn to the season with thanks and reflection on the great blessings bestowed upon us by the Creator. I have always looked to Veterans Day on November 11 as the start for this greater awareness of the gratitude Americans celebrate together. At the end of World War I, the armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month of 1918. Armistice Day was designated a national holiday in 1938 and later became Veterans Day in 1954, a time for Americans to honor those who served in our armed forces, and especially those who have served at great risk in combat.
While this holiday will always be recognized, and part of the fabric that weaves our country together, keeping veterans at the forefront of our gratitude should go beyond a single day once a year. They serve as our greatest heroes, to whom a debt can never be fully repaid by a grateful nation. It is my hope and prayer that our country never wavers in its appreciation for the sacrifices, courage, hope, and endless love of country shown by every brave man and woman who wears our nation’s uniform.
With thousands of troops returning home from Afghanistan and other deployments this year, we must continue to ensure we honor their sacrifices so every veteran knows a secure future at home and the full gift of freedom and democracy paid for by their service. Texas must always honor our commitment to these heroes and their families, and your legislature took additional action this year to address many needs.
During the 87th Texas Legislative Session, several bills passed to ensure our veterans and their families have the promise of hope through better opportunities in Texas. Senate Bill 938 assists veterans starting their own business by providing an exemption from the Business Entity Formation Fee and waives Franchise Taxes for 5 years. Additional legislation was also passed to assist the surviving spouses of service members killed in the line of duty by expanding eligibility for residential homestead tax exemptions by offering an amendment to the Texas Constitution for consideration by the voters as part of the Constitutional Election on November 2. Prior to this change, the exemption only extended to spouses of those killed in action, while excluding those who tragically lost their lives in non-hostile events, or under other circumstances.
House Bill 139 was also signed into law, providing a more efficient pathway for qualified, out-of-state service members, veterans and their spouses to obtain an occupational license as an educator when they move to Texas. To further advance critical mental health services for veterans, House Bill 3821 amends the Government Code by requiring the Texas Veterans Commission to employ and train mental health professionals to assist the Health and Human Services Commission in the administration of mental health program for veterans.
Outside of legislative changes, the Texas Veterans Commission website provides resources for those seeking assistance which can be found at veterans.portal.texas.gov. Locally, Denton County is home to over 40,000 Texas veterans, and our community is always ready with the resources and gratitude they have earned. Veterans seeking services and resources in our area can learn more through the County’s website at www.dentoncounty.gov/859/Veterans-Service.
As November offers opportunities for greater awareness of veterans, it also includes more opportunities for our community to come together to help in many other ways. Every year, I have been filled with gratitude, witnessing people across our great state helping one another in the spirit of Thanksgiving. I hope you will stay connected to area resources and non-profits on the countless ways to give back. If I can ever help connect you with a local event or cause, please let me hear from you.
Beth and I wish you a season of blessings and gratitude as we celebrate November and embrace the holiday season. May we each use our talents and blessings to make the most of this November in our work to make a positive difference in our families, neighborhoods, and communities. Together, we will inspire the next generation to continue the celebration of gratitude and widen the circle of giving for all.
It is an honor to serve you in the Texas House and work together for a stronger Texas. Please share your thoughts by contacting me at 972.724.8477 or [email protected]. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.