Advocates from Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1062 recently met with Xochitl Torres Small, New Mexico’s newly-elected representative from the 2nd Congressional District, in Ruidoso last week to discuss the needs of the more than 2,300 area veterans.
Chapter service officer Doug Sabo and three fellow members informed Small about the inadequacies in the area’s veteran services, meeting her at his makeshift office, a local Subway restaurant. “Our problem here is that we are in a rural area, and we don’t get any support,” he told Small. “That’s why we’re meeting here. I have met dozens of veterans here and I can stay for four or five hours to fill out their paperwork.”
Sabo has successfully pursued 24 disability cases, and often transports veterans to appointments in Albuquerque, 190 miles away.”That’s the closest place we can go to get anything done of substance,” he told Small. “I’ve assisted in crises nine times — veterans who were about to eat their guns. I grab them and take them to Albuquerque and get them treatment.”
Officials with New Mexico Veterans Services come to Ruidoso once a month, but there is no county service officer and little community support, he added. “There is no homeless shelter, no viable contingency plan or funding to aid veterans in need. Plus, there is no sign, plaque, statute, park or memorial to honor our veterans, yet hundreds live within the village and about 2,300 in the county.”