A warfighter leaving the armed forces requires the tools necessary to successfully integrate into the civilian world. Often times, Veterans are not fully aware of the benefits and services that the VA and the state provide.
- As Governor, I will formalize a statewide process that facilitates a transition for Veterans from military life to civilian life. I will focus on building up the number of VA accredited representatives and integrating them into local communities throughout the state. We will eradicate the bureaucracy that currently encumbers our Veterans. I will direct our VA representatives to be proactive in their outreach to Veterans, they will not simply stand by and wait for Veterans to come to them.
- My administration will fund the Veterans Education Program. This program provides guidance to public Institutions of Higher Learning in the development of Centers of Excellence for Veteran Students transitioning from the military to school, fostering academic success and credential attainment.
- After World War II, nearly half of the small businesses in America were Veteran-owned small businesses. Today, that number is less than five percent. My administration will work with the State Small Business Administration to identify and create small business opportunities for our Veterans.
Veterans in the Workforce
- Veterans come to the table with a set of job skills second to none. Not only do service members possess trade skills, but they also hold transferable skills employers desperately seek such as leadership, attention to detail, poise and discipline. To encourage Veterans to stay in our great state, we need to provide the opportunities for them to do so.
- My administration will develop a program granting reciprocity for licenses in the fields that these service members have trained.
- My administration will suspend all licensure fees for Veterans and their spouses, which are often expensive and place an undue burden on Veterans trying to enter the workforce.
- As a state, we should be cultivating our Veterans’ experience and brainpower to help grow our economy. To further ensure our Veterans start on an equal playing field, my Administration will guarantee every qualified veteran who applies for a state job gets an interview. Additionally, I would apply half of a Veterans’ years in service towards their state retirement plans, so a veteran that leaves the service after 10 years does not have to start at square one as a result of their honorable service in keeping our nation safe.
We need to be on a level playing field to attract to the state more military retirees and families. In addition to bringing their retired pay and associated benefits, they also have special skills and proven ability to create jobs by starting new businesses. New Mexico needs to join and compete with the 28 other states that exempt military retired pay from personal income tax (PIT). Absent that exemption New Mexico will continue to lose this valuable source of talent and income to include military retirees moving out of the state because of retired pay taxation.
My administration will support a 100% PIT exemption for the pay of uniformed service retirees and widowed spouses.
Post-Traumatic Stress Task Force
Combat Veterans returning from war and transitioning into the civilian sector face hurdles for which I am intimately familiar.
- Veterans throughout the state lack access to assistance for Post-Traumatic Stress. My administration will commit to serving our combat Veterans in the same way they served us.
- Provide screening and services for New Mexico National Guard when they are reintegrated into civilian life after a deployment
- Create a State network of therapists and support groups that have a special focus on PTS
- Ensure veterans who do not want to use the VA, or are too far from the VA have access to quality mental health care
- Work with our institutions of higher learning to create a PTS Center of Excellence in New Mexico
Women Veterans Task Force
My administration will lead from the front when it comes to supporting our Women Veterans. Our women Veterans face daunting challenges when they leave the military. Many are single mothers pursuing an education and trying to overcome many difficulties.
- I will bring the full resources of our state together to form a Women’s Veterans Task Force to identify ways to support our women Veterans.
- Our state will provide full tax credit and vouchers for women who are in job training or school and require childcare. No woman Veteran should have to sacrifice their professional betterment because they can’t afford safe childcare.
- For any who have experienced sexual trauma, we will make counseling and treatment available.
Homeless Veterans Task Force
My administration will make it our mission to end Veteran homelessness. Veterans make up about 10 percent of the overall homeless population in New Mexico, which puts the estimate of homeless Veterans between 750 and 1,000. Just like the military motto: “Leave No One Behind” my Administration will “Leave No Homeless Veteran Behind.”
Veterans Serving Veterans
Who knows the problems that a veteran faces better than a fellow vet? I stand steadfast in my belief that developing a program throughout the state that links Veterans together will foster better communications and relief for Veterans who are facing challenges they do not know how to overcome.
- Our Veterans Service Officers are extremely overtaxed. My administration will leverage the state-wide service organizations, such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts as force multipliers. These force multipliers can identify and “intake” Veterans from their post and community for service support.
My administration will create a statewide support program – NM Vets 4 Vets – that connects Veterans with each other to provide support for Veterans dealing with the unique challenges they face.
- Additionally, we will create a state-chartered Veteran’s County Advisory Board comprised of local veteran leaders from every county to give input and policy guidance on challenges facing Veterans.
Thanking our New Mexican Veterans
- We live in the Land of Enchantment, where individuals come from far and wide to access our beautiful state parks, hunt our lands and fish our streams. My administration will use our beautiful state and resources to our advantage by granting free fishing and hunting licenses and a guaranteed deer tag to any honorably discharged New Mexico resident veteran who served a minimum of 90 days consecutive active duty.
- In addition, Veterans and their families will have free access to state parks and camping sites.
- We will also capitalize on our growing mass transit system by granting free access for Veterans to train and bus services.
- Finally, we will waive all motor vehicle administrative fees for any honorably discharged New Mexico resident Veterans.