When South and West Texas come to mind, folks might think of mouthwatering breakfast tacos, breathtaking sunsets and a good worn-in pair of cowboy boots. And they’re not wrong.
However, what is also synonymous with the 23rd District of Texas is the presence of our military bases.
With Fort Bliss to the West, Joint Base San Antonio to the East and Laughlin Air Force Base in between, our congressional district has a uniquely special relationship with our servicemembers, veterans and their families. It is a continuous source of pride to represent in Congress over 4,600 active-duty military and 45,000 military veterans across 29 counties and two time zones of TX-23.
November marks Military Family Appreciation Month, a time to honor the tremendous sacrifices made by the families of the men and women who choose to serve in our nation’s military.
From the moment our men and women in uniform head off to train, they put their lives on the line to protect our nation’s freedoms, and no one bears the weight of this sacrifice more than their loved ones back home.
Each year around Thanksgiving, I am again reminded of this sacrifice. During my nearly ten-year career as an undercover officer in the CIA, I served shoulder to shoulder with our service men and women and witnessed their love for their country, their fellow servicemembers and their loved ones back home. We were often in the same situation around this time of year, unable to return home to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with our family and friends.
Over the past few years serving TX-23 in Congress, my team and I have been glad to provide helping hands by serving Thanksgiving meals to the troops at Camp Bullis and Joint Base San Antonio. The least we can do is be friendly faces to those stationed away from home and thank them for their selfless, dedicated service to our nation.
This year, the sacrifices that military families make were undeniable. I spent this Thanksgiving in Del Rio with the Laughlin Air Force Base community, as we mourn the recent loss of Captain John Graziano, who lost his life in a tragic training accident. My heart is still heavy for his mom and dad, sisters and brother, and his fellow brothers and sisters in arms at Laughlin.
It was clear listening to the words of his loved ones at the memorial service what a wonderful, noble man Capt. Graziano was, and he will be sorely missed across the community.
We all know someone who has put their life on the line to protect our nation’s freedoms, and it is important to tell them that you are grateful for and will never forget their service and sacrifice. It is equally important to offer the same gratitude to their families. Hug your loved ones close always, and as the holiday season continues, I encourage you to find ways to give back to others and recognize the entire military and veteran community.
A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as Vice Chair of the Maritime and Border Security Subcommittee on the Committee for Homeland Security, and as the Chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.