WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) announced that she will attend the State of the Union with northern Nevada veteran Gil Hernandez. Mr. Hernandez is an Elko resident and advocate for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). He currently serves as the VFW National Legislative Vice-Chair, a Nevada National Council Member, and a Nevada National Legislative Member.
“After bravely serving our country, Gil made it his life’s mission to continue his service by helping our veterans gain access to critical resources that our heroes need,” said Senator Rosen. “I'm honored to have Gil as my guest for the State of the Union. His service and advocacy for Nevada’s veterans over the years have proven essential. I will continue to work with leaders like Gil at the local, state, and federal level to champion commonsense policies that help support our veterans and their families.”
“I am honored to join Senator Rosen for the President’s State of the Union address and hope to use my voice to represent the hundreds of thousands of Nevada veterans who have bravely served our state and country,” said Mr. Hernandez. “This Congress alone, Senator Rosen introduced five bipartisan bills aimed at helping our veterans get access to gainful employment and affordable housing, along with other important benefits to support our heroes. I am grateful to Senator Rosen for championing important policies over the years in both the House and Senate, and I look forward to continuing to work with her to ensure we prioritize veterans’ needs in our communities.”
BACKGROUND: During the Vietnam War, Mr. Hernandez’s tank was ambushed by explosives. Critically wounded, he was pronounced dead three times before finally being discovered to be alive. As a result of his injuries, Mr. Hernandez was unable to continue his dream of serving in the Marine Corps, but has instead devoted his life to bettering the lives of his fellow veteran.
Since his time in Vietnam, Mr. Hernandez has been an advocate for veterans for over four decades. Hernandez has sought to improve issues that impact veterans by advocating for funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs and services to support veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress.
Hernandez previously served as chairman of the Elko Convention and Visitors Authority board for four years and is a member of Elko Bighorns Unlimited and a founder of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Hernandez has received several awards and recognitions for his work and was named Veteran of the Month, All-American State Commander of the VFW, and was chosen to lead the Nevada VFW in 2007. He was honored with Great Basin College’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015.
Over 225,000 veterans call Nevada home. This Congress, Senator Rosen has introduced nearly twenty bipartisan bills, five of which are specifically aimed at empowering our veterans and servicemembers, including:
• The bipartisan Veterans Jobs Opportunity Act - legislation that would provide a 15% tax credit on the first $50,000 of startup costs for veterans who open a small business in underserved communities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in Nevada, 1 in 8 small businesses are veteran-owned.
• The bipartisan Access to Affordable Housing for Veterans Act of 2019 – legislation that would ensure that veterans are proactively made aware of their VA home loan options, including providing them information about whether or not such an option is more affordable than a conventional loan.
• The bipartisan Hire Student Veterans Act – legislation that would expand the existing Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) to ensure that all student veterans using their GI benefits can take advantage of valuable paid internships or work opportunities while in school.
• The bipartisan GI Bill Planning Act of 2019 – legislation that would provide military enlistees additional time to pick their preferred GI Bill education benefits plan, instead of having to do so at arrival at Basic Training, which is a deliberately chaotic environment with little opportunity for recruits to make an informed decision about their future. This legislation is endorsed by Student Veterans of America, VFW, and Veterans Education Success.
• The bipartisan JROTC Cyber Training Act - legislation that would direct the Secretary of Defense to carry out a program to enhance the preparation of students in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) for careers in computer science and cybersecurity.