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HB 634 requires the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to investigate and verify the veteran status of each inmate using the Public Assistance Reporting Information System operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If the inmate is a veteran, the department is required to assist the inmate in applying for federal benefits through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
In the past, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs exchanged data on veteran status frequently. In recent years this this exchange of information has declined. Establishing the veteran status of inmates helps give the department a more in-depth view of who they have incarcerated. Sometimes, veterans are eligible for benefits from the federal government. By ensuring that qualified inmates receive all the federal benefits they are entitled to, Texas may be able to shift some of its inmate costs to a more appropriate level of government. Furthermore, inmates who are veterans will be able to take greater responsibility for caring for themselves and their families if they receive their earned veterans benefits. We recommend that legislators support HB 634.