Native veterans advocate for fellow soldiers

The National Association of County Veterans Service Officers has accredited 21 Native Americans in New Mexico to advocate for their fellow soldiers.

The graduates represent the Navajo Nation and eight Pueblo tribes. They spent a week learning how to navigate the state and federal veterans' benefits system.

"We ... believe strongly in the United States of America," Brian Padilla of Santa Ana Pueblo told The Albuquerque Journal. "It's more than a just a country. It's more than just a land. It's our mother land."

Native Americans serve at the highest rates per capita of any racial or ethnic group. But state Veterans Services Department Secretary John M. Garcia said Native veterans have the lowest rate of filing claims for benefits.

Of the 15,000 Native veterans in New Mexico, only about 5,600 are receiving benefits, Garcia said.

Get the Story:
Native Veterans Get 21 Advocates (The Albuquerque Journal 10/26)
Giving back to veterans (The Santa Fe New Mexican 10/26)

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