O’Rourke Holds EPCC Town Hall Meeting
Congressman Beto O’Rourke held his town hall meeting on Saturday, July 13 at the El Paso Community College, Valle Verde campus.
O’Rourke was on hand to tackle the many concerns of El Pasoians citywide, but concentrated primarily on veteran related issues.
With the question and answer portion extending well passed the allotted time, it is fair to say that the congressman’s interest in his city and it’s veterans, is his top priority.
In March of this year many soldiers had to drop from school because the military decided to cut the tuition assistance program, which allows active duty military to attend college without paying out of pocket.
This was a huge blow to morale within the armed forces and with his office getting inundated with phone calls from soldiers concerned about their education, O’Rourke decided to step in and help.
The congressman introduced a bill titled H.R 1265, which is credited with re-instating tuition assistance for active duty military attending college. This was a huge victory for military students nationwide, but more particularly for military students attending EPCC.
When asked about what motivated him to step in and take action, he simply stated
“We talked about a lot of injustice today. That was perhaps one of the most unjust things that I’ve seen our government do in the short time I’ve been up there.”
His efforts to help today’s generation of veterans and active duty soldiers doesn’t stop there.
Many veterans from Vietnam and desert storm had tough questions for the congressman this past weekend, including what his solution was for the backlog in claims being processed through the Veteran’s Affairs office.
Many of the concerned citizens had been waiting over two years for a response on their claims.
I was able to talk with O’Rourke and asked him about his proposed plan to end the backlog by 2015 and if the sequester has any effect on his proposed deadline.
When addressing the issue of possibly ending the backlog before 2015, O’Rourke had a more realistic outlook,
“I think there is very little chance it will happen sooner. Because the backlog is defined as anything over 125 days and there are some 800,000 cases over that 125-day backlog, today.”
“This is the worse time to be cutting government spending.” said O’Rourke, when asked if the sequester had any affect on helping to lessen the backlog.
There is no doubt that the negative ramifications of job cuts will effect the ability of the VA to not only process new claims, but also help find resolution to older ones.
With thousands of soldiers and veterans filing claims daily, O’Rourke has made it his main concern to ensure that they are not forgotten.