Darrell Todd Maurina
The state veterans’ service officer for east central New Mexico hopes for a large turnout at a special Saturday afternoon meeting in Clovis to discuss veterans affairs with the secretary of the state’s Department of Veteran’s Services.
“I’ve got 200 chairs and I’d like to have about 300 people,” said John Fondrick, whose office assists veterans from Curry, Roosevelt, and part of DeBaca counties with issues related to their military service.
In a press release, Secretary John Garcia, who holds cabinet-level rank in the state government, said the meeting is the fifth in a series of town hall events held around the state in which he plans to “gather the expressed concerns, issues and suggestions of the local veterans and their families,” in preparation for drafting legislation on veterans’ issues.
Fondrick said he expects at least two issues to come up at the meeting: sealing veteran’s discharge records in county courthouses so people cannot use them to fraudulently obtain credit cards and lobbying the federal government to allow concurrent receipt of retirement pay and disability benefits.
“If the New Mexico Legislature and the governor would send a letter to Washington, I believe we would be the first state to support concurrent receipts,” Fondrick said. “We have lots of veterans organizations that have given their support to this, but so far it hasn’t happened at the state government level.”