COACHELLA, Calif. - It's been a year of political accomplishments and challenges for Coachella Valley native, Rep. Raul Ruiz since he took office in Washington D.C. Jan. 3 last year.
Ruiz, of Coachella, is an emergency room physician turned congressman for the 36th District.
The new lawmaker got straight to work casting some notable votes in favor of the Violence Against Women Act and also the No Budget, No Pay Act, which disappointed some Democrats.
He also stood by local leaders in support of restoring the Salton Sea.
Dr. Ruiz saw firsthand the destruction of the mountain fire and called for more federal money for fire prevention.
He then refused a paycheck during the government shutdown. Ruiz says his biggest accomplishments were fighting for those who served our country by shining light on jobs and services for homeless vets, and addressing the Veterans' claims backlog.
Andrew Walker, from Beaumont, retired from the military in 2007 when he needed medical attention and ran into problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"I wasn't getting help. I'd get a long response time and a negative letter," said Walker.
He contacted Ruiz's office.
"They responded to me right away, stayed in touch with me and supported me. I was finally seen and rated by the VA at the end of 2013," said Walker.
"That's why I ran for Congress, to help people like Andrew," said Ruiz.
The rookie congressman also introduced new legislation to protect seniors from health care fraud and prevent fraud in the health care exchanges. Those issues will be a priority for him this new year.
"I believe you should champion for those who can't and I needed someone to champion for me. It was a very humbling experience," said Walker.