The state Department of Veterans Services provides many services and benefits to New Mexico veterans and their families, and its website and Facebook page provide easily accessible and valuable information for those in rural areas.

Some veterans might not be aware of benefits to which they are entitled, so here is a quick description of some program offices, their responsibilities and phone numbers from the official department website: 

The Benefits Division has 16 field offices around the state which are staffed by nationally-certified veteran services officers who can advise on eligibility and assist veterans and families filing for benefits. The closest field office to the East Mountains is in Albuquerque.

Each field office location and additional contact information is listed on the website; the phone number is 505-827-6383.

The Field Services Division advocates for veterans and eligible dependents, provides information on federal, state and local benefits and helps connect veterans to benefits and services they have earned. To learn more, contact Larry Campos, Division Manager, at 505-383-2417. 

The Veterans Education program ensures that every veteran or eligible dependent has an opportunity to access  approved post-secondary educational, training or licensure certification programs. The benefits web page has information about available scholarships for veterans. For more information, contact Marilyn Dykman at 505-383-2418.

The Veterans Business Outreach Center Program is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services, such as business training, counseling and resource partner referrals to transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard and Reserve members and military spouses interested in starting or growing a small business. For more information, contact Kymm Saunier, Administrative Assistant, at 505-383-2403.

Healthcare Service officers advocate, research, and secure healthcare services for New Mexico veterans and assist them in addressing issues concerning VA and private healthcare access. The Healthcare Service operates the New Mexico State Veterans’ Home, a nursing facility for eligible veterans, spouses and gold star parents. The Healthcare Coordination Division Director is Mitchell Lawrence, who can be reached at 505-383-2430.

Amanda Somerville, the Women Veterans Program Manager, directs a statewide joint women veterans program and is the first point of contact for all women veteran issues. Contact her at 505-383-2431.

The State Veterans Cemetery Program is a statewide initiative to plan, design and construct veterans’ cemeteries in Ft. Stanton, Gallup, Angel Fire, and Carlsbad. For more information, contact 505-827-6356.

For more information and a complete listing of programs and benefits, points of contact and events, visit the department website at nmdvs.org or call the main phone number, 505-383-2400. The Albuquerque office is located at 5201 Eagle Rock Ave. NE, Suite 1-A, Albuquerque, NM 87113.

Leota Harriman
Leota Harriman

Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at news.ind.editor@gmail.com.