My mom is my hero. More than 40 years ago, she came to this country as a domestic helper. Years later, she had the courage to leave an abusive husband and raise my sister and me on her own, and it wasn’t always easy. My mom worked multiple jobs and long hours, and we relied on reduced lunch and subsidized housing at one point to make ends meet. Growing up on the Far West Side of San Antonio, my mom reminded us every day that we were lucky to be born in the United States, and that we had to give back to the country that had given us so much. 

Her example and our Catholic faith have guided my life of public service. It’s why I served in the Air Force and in Iraq, and it’s why my sister serves in the Navy to this day. From the military to the executive office of the president, I spent nearly 15 years working to protect our national and economic security, and I know that protecting our country begins with protecting our families, our jobs, and our health care here in Texas. That’s why I’m running for Congress – to protect the opportunities that allowed me to grow up healthy, get an education, and serve our country because every family in this district deserves the same opportunities my family had. 

COVID-19 has hit our communities hard – San Antonio especially. Many of us have lost loved ones to this pandemic, or have personally battled this disease. Many more have lost their jobs or had to shut down their business and are still hurting months into this crisis.

We need leadership that will help us come back stronger. We have to end the partisan conflict in Washington, which has stopped working families and small businesses from getting the coronavirus relief they need while big corporations have been bailed out time and time again. In Congress, I’ll fight to bring more jobs to this district, and for a level playing field for hardworking Texans. 

Every family deserves access to quality, affordable health care. I’m hopeful that the worst of this crisis is behind us, but we need to invest in health care to make sure our communities aren’t so vulnerable in the future. 

Health care is personal to me. I came home from my Iraq deployment to surprise my mom, but she surprised me with the news that she had been diagnosed with colon cancer. I’ll never forget the fear of losing my mom – and the fear that this might bankrupt our family. Thankfully, she had good health care through her job as a public school teacher. Every Texas family deserves that same fighting chance. That’s why I’m committed to expanding access and lowering the cost of health care. 

We have to get this pandemic under control so people can safely get back to work and our classrooms are as safe as possible. My public school education allowed me to earn a four-year Air Force ROTC scholarship that took me from John Jay High School here in San Antonio to college and on to the Air Force and Iraq. In Congress, I’ll work to ensure every student in Texas has a first-class public education, which includes investing in our teachers, our trade schools, and advanced-skills training to keep Texas strong. 

Our communities, our state, and our country are worth fighting for. It’s why I joined the military, why I served in Iraq, why I’ve dedicated my life to public service, and why I’m running to serve Texas’ 23rd Congressional District. 

Read opponent Tony Gonzales’ commentary here.

Gina Ortiz Jones is an Air Force and Iraq War veteran, San Antonio native, and first-generation American running to fight for quality, affordable health care, a level playing field so hardworking Texans...