Whether it’s Washington D.C. or Austin, establishment politicians like State Representative J.M. Lozano (R – Kingsville) love to wrap themselves in the flag and pretend to honor veterans. The truth is Lozano has turned his back on Texas veterans and their families, by introducing legislation to gut the Hazlewood Program.

The Hazlewood program is a State of Texas benefit that provides qualified Veterans, spouses, and dependent children with an education benefit of up to 150 hours of tuition exemption at public colleges and universities in Texas.

For nearly a century, Texas has given these veterans the chance to receive tuition-free higher education after their military service. For some veterans returning with traumatic brain injury, PTSD or other disabilities which make it difficult for them to go to school, a 2009 update to the Hazlewood Program allowed them to pass on their unused benefits to one of their children.

Lozano represents a district which is home to 12,000 veterans and their families, but instead of ensuring they and their spouses or dependents can get ahead, Lozano is making it harder for them to build a better future.

Lozano, currently the Chairman of the House Higher Education Committee, filed HB 3766 which would have denied thousands of Texas veterans and their families an opportunity to further their education. He retreated in the face of withering criticism from veterans groups.

Lozano’s bill sought to severely limit eligibility for the program. It would have required veterans to have served four years rather than 180 days and created an artificial expiration date of 15 years after leaving service, making it nearly impossible for many children to qualify.

Our veterans sacrifice a lot for us and honoring them should be a no-brainer. They deserve access to educational funding to improve their lives, and should be able to decide for themselves and their families how to utilize the benefits they earn.

We need policy officials to see, hear, and serve our 1.5 million veterans living in Texas and their families, not attempt to pass bills against them. We need to Reform Austin.