National, state and local organizations informed military veterans and care providers Wednesday of rights and benefits available to them during the Rural Veteran Outreach Program at Roswell Elks Lodge #969.
Nancy Dailey, acting director of the Veterans Rural Health Resource Center — Western Region, said the intent of the event was to reach out to a rural community specifically because most people are puzzled as to where to start and where to go to address needs.
“One of the things that we want to do is maximize the potential of everyone working with veterans,” she said, noting that 41 percent of veterans live in rural areas.
“The best thing about working with rural communities are the people; they’re very passionate and patriotic. There’s nothing that these folks won’t do to help veterans.”
During the program, representatives organizations such as the Albuquerque VA Regional Office, Las Cruces Vet Center and Santa Fe National Cemetery provided attendees with information about benefits and entitlements available for veterans and their dependants.
“It is a unique occasion for the community to have the Office of Rural Health come down here to work with us in a collaborative effort to address the needs of our veterans and their families,” said Sheryl Foland, chair of Southeastern New Mexico Quality Care for Veterans Community Coalition.
City and state officials also attended the event, including Reps. Bob Wooley and Dennis Kintigh and Mayor Del Jurney, as well as representatives from the offices of Rep. Steve Pearce and Sens. Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman.
New Mexico Department of Veterans’ Services Secretary Tim Hale also was on hand to share information about the department’s services and benefits, such as scholarships and veteran employment tax credit for businesses.
“In New Mexico, we’re very, very, acutely aware that we’re a rural state,” he said. “We’re working very hard to get VA benefits throughout the state to get veterans the benefits they’ve earned.”
The Office of Rural Health has another veteran outreach event planned for Feb. 6 at the Roswell Convention Center. For more information, call 800-613-4012.