STANDING UP FOR VETERANS
As a former officer in the U.S. Navy, Gil Cisneros knows firsthand the sacrifices our men and women in uniform, along with their families, make to protect our freedoms. Gil and his wife Jacki believe that we as Americans have no higher duty than to provide for those men and women when they return from service. They understand we must ensure these women and men have full access to the top quality health care and the educational benefits they deserve.
To fulfill its promise to our veterans, Gil believes Congress must fully fund veterans programs and bring the Veterans Administration into the 21st Century. As the elected representative for the 39th Congressional District, Gil will fight efforts currently in Congress to slash veterans benefits and work to expand programs like the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, the Vet Centers, and the Comprehensive Caregiver Program that have revolutionized veterans’ access to health and educational benefits.
For Gil, neither a veteran’s sexual orientation nor their immigration status should have any bearing on our country’s commitment to them. Every veterans’ sacrifice carries equal weight, and their service to our country entitles them to the same opportunity to achieve the American Dream when they come home.
Both of Gil’s grandfathers fought in World War II, and his father served in the Vietnam War to protect the freedoms of our great nation. In Congress, Gil will ensure our commitment to our veterans knows no gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation and has no expiration date.
EXPAND ACCESS TO EDUCATIONAL AND HEALTH BENEFITS
The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, the Vet Centers, and the Comprehensive Caregiver Program have proven to be successful and have brought generations of veterans into the middle-class and above. Gil and Jacki know that it is time to expand access to programs and services that work and create new programs to tackle emerging concerns.
In the wake of 9/11, our nation passed the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which reaffirmed our commitment to those servicemembers and their families and expressed our Nation’s gratitude for their service. The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill expands the education benefits established at the end of World War II. In addition to providing support for the cost of tuition, the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill covers the costs of a college education that we often overlook, including books and housing. Gil understands how vital this extra assistance is to every veteran who is working hard to gain a college degree. Now, less than a decade later, some members of Congress are attempting to pass legislation, such as H.R. 3016, which limits access to the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. In Congress, Gil will fight against any attempt to take away the educational benefits on which our veterans rely. Gil and Jacki know that when we provide a better future for our veterans, we are ensuring a better future for our nation.
Veterans and their families face many obstacles when transitioning back to civilian life, but access to mental and physical healthcare should not be one of them. In the past five years, the VA has increased access to Vet Centers by maintaining evening and weekend hours so service members, veterans, and their families can benefit from individual and group counseling.
The efforts do not stop with expanded hours. The Vet Center launched a fleet of 80 mobile units which extend the reach of services to communities in need. These accomplishments were all made possible because our nation decided to reinvest in the future of veteran health services. Gil knows that we must continue to build on that progress and expand access to these vital services to make sure that no man or woman is left behind. While some Congressional leaders advocate privatizing health services for veterans, Gil will work to pass legislation in Congress that will further strengthen the reach of our existing services.
Gil and Jacki know that family members can play an important role as caregivers for veterans suffering from injuries. Often, that role requires the caregiver to take time off work, posing a financial strain on the family. In 2010, our country started the Comprehensive Caregiver Program which provides a monthly stipend and health care coverage for the caregivers of veterans who suffer from service connected injuries incurred after 9/11. This program exemplified that our nation is committed not only to the veterans who have served but to the families who support them. Gil believes that it is time to expand access to the Comprehensive Caregiver Program by including caregivers of veterans who suffered from injuries before 9/11 and veterans who suffer from illnesses or disease.
FULLY FUND VETERANS’ AFFAIR SERVICES AND FACILITIES
Gil understands his fellow servicemen and women in communities all around the nation are struggling to gain access to health care when it matters most. Veterans are waiting for seven, eight, and sometimes even nine months for an appointment at the VA. The facilities are already working with limited funding, and now some Congressional leaders want to make further cuts to a system that needs our support. It is vital that veterans have immediate access to the physical, mental, and emotional care they need upon returning from combat zones. Gil will champion the fight for increased funding to the VA, which will ensure that veterans are receiving the top-quality care and services that they need.
As the son of a veteran, Gil has seen first-hand the staggering backlog of claims in the VA system. With an underfunded VA, resources are stretched thin, and facilities are unable to hire additional processors to address the volume of claims. Washington Republicans have repeatedly voted against the defense appropriations that our service members and veterans so desperately needed. Gil and Jacki know that the people who are hurt most by funding cuts to the VA are veterans and their families. President Trump’s plan for the VA includes severe budget cuts that take money away from disabled, unemployed veterans and puts that money in the pocket of big corporations. Gil believes the people in the 39th District deserve a leader who will fight to increase funding to the VA, so our local veterans get the care they deserve.
PROTECT VETERANS AGAINST DISCRIMINATION
As a nation, we are more diverse than ever before, and our military is no exception. There are currently over 75,000 service members who identify with the LGBTQ community and every year, over 8,000 non-citizens enlist in our military. It is imperative that we fight to protect every servicemember and veteran regardless of their sexual orientation or immigration status.
Many people in our country fought hard to remove antiquated policies that routinely discriminated against servicemembers and veterans based on sexual orientation and immigration status, but Gil understands there is so much more work to be done.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” marked a pivotal moment in our history. This repeal allowed the brave service members who identify with the LGBT community to openly serve in the U.S Military without fear of a ‘less than honorable’ discharge. For over 20 years, Congressman Ed Royce voted in favor of this misguided and hurtful policy, showing our community that he stands against the heroes who have sacrificed their lives to protect his freedoms.
Despite the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” transgender service members still do not receive any protection from discrimination. While the military’s non-discrimination policy includes sexual orientation, there remains no redress for the thousands of LGBTQ service members who had already been kicked out as a result of these policies.
Gil stands ready to take the extra steps in Congress to protect every single member of our armed forces; he will not allow elected representatives with an extremist agenda to threaten the progress that our nation has made. Gil will defend the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; he will fight President Trump’s Transgender Military Ban, and he will protect veterans against any future attempts to discriminate based on sexual orientation. Gil and Jacki will fight to ensure same-sex married couples receive the same VA benefits as married couples of the opposite sex.
Undocumented veterans continue to be deported despite our armed forces resuming naturalization for non-citizens. For many of them, America is the only home that they’ve ever known. When these brave men and women decide to join our military, they are promised a pathway to citizenship. However, when they return from service, many of these individuals are not provided with the appropriate resources to begin the naturalization process and have limited to no access to the benefits that they deserve. Gil believes it’s fundamentally unfair to have these honorable veterans torn away from their family and friends and have their medical and educational benefits withheld from them. In Congress, Gil will fight to ensure service members and veterans are given guidance and counseling about the naturalization process so those heroes can receive the same VA benefits as every individual in the armed forces.