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Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs and Military Installations - 81st R.S. (2009)

Committee Members
Leticia Van de Putte, Chair
Eliot Shapleigh, Vice Chair
Jeff Wentworth, Vice Chair
Brian Birdwell
Wendy Davis
Craig Estes
Joan Huffman
Charges
• Study veteran employment and veteran-owned small business issues, including the usefulness of creating a veteran-specific employment database to target job openings tailored to the skill sets of Texas' returning veterans. Include an assessment and recommendations to best implement the veteran employment database.
• Examine the potential risk factors for returning service members, which may contribute to an increase in domestic violence and child abuse cases. Additionally, determine best practices, including funding options, to ensure that specific counseling related to these risk factors is available to and provided for returning service members and their family members during the initial reunion phase.
• Examine the use of the new GI Bill by veterans and their families in conjunction with the changes made to the Hazlewood Act during the 81 st Legislature, Regular Session, as the number of service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan continues to rise. Include an assessment and recommendations on how the programs can be maximized to better serve veterans and their families.
• Study the specific needs of female veterans and service members and whether they are met. Make recommendations for improving services.
• Study the value of enhancing training requirements for Veterans County Service Officers (VCSO) to improve veterans service at the local level, especially in rural areas. Make recommendations on how to best use technology for training purposes and expanding accreditation of VCSO.
• Study the advantages of centralizing call center activities for referral to benefits providers (e.g., TVC, TVLB, VA, DSHS, Suicide Prevention Call Centers, etc.), including the costs associated with maintaining multiple call centers, the potential savings of consolidating reporting systems, and any options for obtaining federal funds. Make suggestions to streamline the process for veterans to obtain resources and benefits.
• Inventory and assess veteran workforce programs offered by state agencies (i.e., TVC, TWC, TAG), and include the usefulness of creating a veteran-specific employment database, which would target job openings tailored to the skill set of Texas' returning veterans as well as job training for spouses. Make recommendations to allow agencies to work more effectively and for efficient implementation of a veteran employment database.
• Consider the mission of the State Guard and the numbers of volunteers within the State Guard. Make recommendations to incentivize recruitment and retention of volunteers to the State Guard.
• Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs & Military Installations, 81st Legislature, Regular and Called Sessions, and make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, and/or complete implementation. Specifically, review the following:
  • Monitor implementation of constitutional amendments relating to veterans issues;
  • Monitor the implementation of $5 million for mental health services programs for veterans, the military and their dependents, following the Ft. Hood tragedy;
  • Monitor and analyze the closure process for the following installations and communicate with district Senators and communities: Naval Station Ingleside; Brooks City-Base, San Antonio; and Lone Star Army Ammunition Plant.
  • Monitor and analyze the realignment of the various installations across the state,
    including but not limited to, Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Fort Bliss in El Paso, and Red River Army Depot in Texarkana.

Note:
Senator Shapleigh, Vice Chair, and Senator Huffman, Member, 1/30/2009-7/14/2010. Senator Wentworth appointed Vice Chair and Senator Birdwell appointed Member, 7/14/2010 (Press release, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, 7/14/2010).

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