New lottery benefits Texas veterans

Chris_1By  State Senator Chris Harris  and  State Rep. Chris Turner | Mansfield Mirror | Nov. 13, 2009

Texas is home to 1.7 million veterans, 240,000 of whom have served our nation in Afghanistan and Iraq in the past eight years. In 2007, the Texas Legislature created the Fund for Veterans’ Assistance (FVA) to provide funding for grants to aid veterans and their families during difficult times. However, there was no money directed to the fund, and it has been unable to serve its purpose.

During the most recent legislative session, we, along with State Senator Leticia Van De Putte, authored legislation to create a lottery scratch-off game, the proceeds of which will go directly to the FVA. We were proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with every major veterans organization in Texas to pass this important measure. The first Veterans Cash scratch-off game goes on sale this week, as we observe Veterans Day. The $2 game is projected to generate up to $9 million per year into the FVA. Why is this so important?

Our servicemen and women sacrifice so much for our freedom. Many have returned from war suffering from mental and physical wounds that may never heal. And the families of our service members sacrifice greatly for our nation as well; the months and years that their spouses have spent overseas, the constant worry and anxiety they must feel knowing their loved ones are in harm’s way or knowing that their loved one is missing the special moments in their children’s lives.

When funded, the FVA will provide grants to organizations that work directly for veterans and their families. Services that will be made possible include job placement programs, assistance with transportation to VA hospitals and clinics and help for veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

As we remember the sacrifices and bravery of those in uniform this Veterans Day, we hope this new lottery game will make a difference in the lives of those who have served. We know this game will not repay the debt we owe our veterans who have served our nation in uniform — nothing can. We can’t put a price tag on the incredible sacrifices Texas veterans have made to protect our freedom. But hopefully with the launch of this game, we can provide our veterans some help they need and have more than earned.

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