AUSTIN – Today State Representative Chris Turner was named “Legislator of the Year” by the Vietnam Veterans of America, Texas State Council. Turner is the only member of the Texas House of Representatives to receive the honor.
“Representative Chris Turner proved to be a staunch advocate for Texas veterans during the 81st Texas Legislature,” said John Miterko, Legislative Liaison, Texas Coalition of Veteran Organizations. “Turner has placed the well-being of Texas veterans and their families as his number one priority for which we are all grateful, and which makes him the uncontested choice for the Vietnam Veterans of America, Texas State Council, Texas House Legislator of the Year Award for 2010.”
“I am incredibly honored and humbled by this recognition,” Turner said. “The Vietnam Veterans of America worked hard to pass the veterans lottery bill and it is they and other veterans leaders who really deserve the credit for its success. I am just happy I could be part of this important effort that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of many veterans across Texas.”
The award reads: “VVA Texas State Council, 2010 Legislator of the Year, Presented to State Representative Chris Turner, In Appreciation For Your Work For The Texas Vietnam Veterans.”
During the 81st Legislative Session, Representative Turner authored and passed several pieces of legislation benefitting veterans and their families. Most notably, Turner authored House Bill 1299, creating a scratch-off lottery ticket to benefit the Permanent Fund for Veterans’ Assistance (FVA). The FVA provides grants to aid veterans and their families in times of financial need and support PTSD counseling and other veterans’ services. The lottery ticket was released on November 9, 2009 and has raised over $5.2 million for the FVA.
Turner, who was named “Freshman of the Year” by the bipartisan House Veterans Caucus and given the “Leadership Award” from the Texas Veterans Commission, also passed legislation requiring institutions of higher education to designate a financial aid specialist to be trained on issues related to veterans’ programs, including the GI Bill and the Hazelwood Act.
He was also the House sponsor of legislation to allow state employees, who are members of military reserves or National Guard, to continue to accrue their sick and vacation leave time while they are on active military duty.