New state laws benefit veterans

Nine state laws and benefits aimed at military veterans take effect Friday, including disabled veteran license plates, enrollment priority for military children and tax exemptions for veterans service organizations. The laws were enacted during the 2011 legislative session and signed by the governor, according to a press release from the state Department of Veteran’s Services. […]

Veterans can remain optimistic

Anthony Principi, former secretary of veterans affairs, warned last week that disabled veterans and their families will suffer if Americans “lose faith in the integrity” of VA disability compensation system. Thankfully, for hundreds of thousands of Vietnam veterans in line to be compensated for three additional diseases linked Agent Orange exposure, few senators seemed ready […]

‘Quality of life’ benefit falls short

By Tom Philpott: Military Update Disabled veterans were thrilled in 2007 when the Veterans Disability Benefits Commission asked Congress to enact an immediate “quality of life” increase to disability payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The special increase, said VDBC commissioners, should be across the board, benefiting all veterans with service-connected health conditions, and […]

California teen biking across country for disabled

By Thomas Garcia: Freedom New Mexico Joseph Machado is riding across America from his home in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., to Washington D.C., to raise money for disabled children. Machado, 13, was escorted by New Mexico State Police from Santa Rosa to Tucumcari on Friday afternoon. “It is impressive to see this young man doing such […]

VA not ready to back disabled pay

By Tom Philpott: Military update Monthly compensation the Department of Veterans Affairs pays to veterans with service-connected disabilities is intended to replace average earnings loss due to injuries or ailments. But should VA also pay disabled veterans something extra for diminished quality of life? Two prominent commissions in 2007 said it should. Last week, however, […]

Education feature: Online auction, physical fitness summer classes offered at CCC

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer The summer semester at Clovis Community College means peace of mind for Mari Blyler. A Desert Storm veteran, Blyler is 80 percent disabled from spinal spondylosis, a degenerative disease that has been attacking her spine since 2000. Blyler said the slow pace of the summer session makes things easier […]

Disabled severance pay adjusted

By Tom Philpott A few hard-nosed choices by the Bush administration in implementing laws to help disabled service members are being rolled back under congressional pressure and a new team of Pentagon policymakers. One regulation change soon to take effect will allow more disability severance pay recipients to keep those lump sum payments without worry […]

Udall, bipartisan group of senators joing to support families of severely disabled vets

U.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-N.M., today joined a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing legislation to provide essential support services to family caregivers of severely disabled servicemembers and veterans.

Advocates for developmentally disabled lobby for funding

By Dennis J. Carroll: The New Mexican Advocates and families of the developmentally disabled, in the midst of a Roundhouse lobbying push for funding vital to the well-being of those in their care, hope they aren’t just being “niced to death” by state lawmakers. “In the last three days we’ve heard nothing but a willingness […]

Woman charged with embezzling funds of disabled individuals

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Dawn Lebow is charged with 12 counts of forgery and 12 counts of embezzlement, according to a criminal complaint filed in Curry County Magistrate Court on Wednesday. CNJ staff A 43-year-old Clovis woman is charged with forgery and embezzlement following allegations she drained more than $13,000 from bank accounts of 12 disabled clients of ENMRSH. […]

Disabled, retired pay concurrent

By Tom Philpott: CNJ columnist New groups of disabled retirees will be able this year to draw Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) or higher amounts of Concurrent Retired Disability Payments (CRDP) under legislation passed in January. Defense Finance and Accounting Service officials explained in an interview how they are implementing the changes. Again it will involve […]

Vet refurbishes medical equipment

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Freedom New Mexico: Thomas Garcia James Freeman is a veteran who collects medical equipment, repairs it and distributes it to the disabled. By Thomas Garcia: Freedom New Mexico James Freeman calls it his “Aid to the Disabled Program.” “James originally started the program to collect medical equipment for disabled veterans,” said Keith Barker acting exalted […]

Number of elderly, disabled facilities growing in Clovis

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CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle Construction continues Thursday on the Wheatfields Senior Living Community on North Prince Street. By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer Clovis looks like prime real estate for developers hoping to build living facilities for senior citizens and the disabled. Six housing development projects for the elderly and the disabled have either […]

Bed bandit strikes

CNJ Staff A disabled customer walked out of a Clovis medical supply store with a mattress without paying for it, a police report said. Tuesday afternoon, Cinda Barringer of Clovis Brace called police to report a disabled customer suffering from “morbid obesity and other ailments” had stolen a mattress from the store, according to the […]

Lump sum payment may be welcome change

By Tom Philpott: Military Update The Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission has examined and rejected a proposal that the VA begin offering veterans with lower-rated disabilities a lump-sum payment instead of lifetime monthly compensation. The 13-member commission reached its decision unanimously last week at a public meeting in Washington, D.C. It did so after being briefed […]

Air Force vet helps others with disabilities

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John Prater, left, spent 26 years in the Air Force. (Freedom Newspapers: Claude Vigil) By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer Instead of settling into retirement and putting up his feet after 26 years in the Air Force, John Prater headed to the college classroom. However, somewhere along the way he began to suffer the effects […]

Disabled veterans program mismanaged

By Tom Philpott: Military Update The Department of Veterans Affairs mismanages its program for rating disabled veterans as “unemployable,” according to a new report by congressional auditors. Because of weak oversight of Individual Unemployability (IU) benefits, some veterans get more compensation than warranted, and the VA is ineffective in moving seriously disabled veterans toward productive […]

Labor department employees use real-life experience to help others

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New Mexico Department of Labor employees Matthew Barela, left, and Luis Flores work with veterans at the New Mexico Department of Labor. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth) By Andy Jackson: CNJ staff writer Matthew Barela came back home to Clovis in 1993 changed forever after his spinal cord was injured in a land mine explosion in […]

Flaws discovered in disability benefits

By Tom Philpott: Military Update A commission conducting the first major review of veterans’ disability benefits in 50 years was warned at its inaugural meeting that perhaps too many veterans have been deemed “unemployable,” which raises their compensation to the level of 100-percent disabled veterans. Renee L. Szybala, director for operations of VA’s Compensation and […]

Federal agency helps disabled purchase homes

Ralph Gallagher’s lifetime dream was to own a home, said Tammy Lewis, executive director of Alliance Behavioral Health Services, a private, for-profit agency that helps the developmentally disabled. A long-time client of mental health service providers, Gallagher never earned enough money to pay a mortgage, she noted. This is where Clovis Secton 8 Homeownership Program […]