As a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, I have the utmost respect for our veterans and their commitment to putting service before self. With nearly one in ten Virginians being a veteran, our Commonwealth is a proud home to many returning to civilian life. We must do all that we can to support our veterans like they do for us.
First, we must work to ensure that veterans can get the care that they need — beginning with stronger access to quality and affordable healthcare. Veterans from rural areas are especially disadvantaged when accessing physicians and healthcare providers. Additionally, research shows that 91% of veterans live with severe mental health conditions, and we must take this crisis seriously.
Finally, our veterans are some of the best equipped business owners in Virginia, having the leadership, discipline, and integrity that it takes to thrive in the entrepreneurial space. However, research shows that our veterans are facing overwhelming financial burden — often taking from personal savings — to start and maintain their businesses. We must do more to ensure that we are supporting veteran entrepreneurs.
In the House of Delegates, I:
- Passed legislation allowing service disabled veteran-owned businesses to purchase property (i.e. computers, desks, and other equipment) that the government no longer needs. This effort, inspired by feedback from veteran-owned businesses in Prince WIlliam County, made it possible for nearly 311 certified service-disabled Veteran-owned small businesses in Virginia to access the capital needed to launch their businesses confidently.
- Proposed amendments to the state budget to restore two key workforce development programs that help veterans enter the workforce — Virginia’s Job Investment Program and Virginia’s Talent Accelerator Program.
- Co-sponsored legislation expanding access to alternative treatment options for those experiencing PTSD and related conditions.
- Led efforts to raise funding for programs and initiatives geared towards women veterans
- Supported a bill to name the last full week of March as Women Veterans Week, highlighting the unique challenges women veterans face, especially around pregnancy and childbirth
As Governor, I will keep up this momentum, and continue to fight for our veterans. They protect and serve our families, and it’s critical that we do the same.