veterans

Jurassic Blueberries via CC

After many attempts over what seems like forever, New Mexico has finally passed a law making recreational cannabis use legal for adults. But the rollout is not as simple as lighting a match as special considerations for how this new law will impact New Mexicans must be addressed. It raises a lot of questions: What happens to people with prior cannabis convictions? Who will have access to the emerging industry? How will equity be enacted? And how will this affect you if you don’t have citizenship status?

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Air Force veteran Barbara Jordan led the Black New Mexico Movement in Rio Rancho in the summer, organizing for equality and justice for Black and Brown people. Demonstrators there encountered angry pushback  from hundreds of residents at some events, but she pressed on. KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona reached out to Jordan to get her views on what she saw take place at the nation's Capitol last week, where a mob of people attempted an insurrection of the United States government—with notably less reaction from law enforcement than at BLM protests in 2020.  

Bert Benally

Let’s take a breath. In episode 12, we try to fend off that wild pandemic election news cycle we’ve been living inside of, which can feel like a deluge of disorganized tragedies and failures. And we put the focus on what’s hanging in the balance these next couple of weeks as we cast our ballots.

David_Axe / Creative Commons


The militarization of local police forces has been on display as anti-riot squads have responded to Black Lives Matter protests in cities across the country. Monique Salhab of Albuquerque is a military veteran who fought in the Middle East. She now sits on the National Board of Directors of Veterans for Peace. She spoke with KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona about the rise in military-style tactics among police and what it feels like to fight for justice amid a pandemic.

Matthew Bisanz / Wikimedia Commons

  The number of grandparents raising their grandkids has been rising all over the country, and especially in New Mexico. Those folks might be affected by a last-minute deadline the IRS announced Monday, April 20. People who get federal benefits—and who didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019—only have until Wednesday, April 22, at 10 a.m. MST to fill out a form on the online IRS portal to get stimulus money for their dependents.

Donovan Shortey, navajophotography.com via Flickr

 

Getting health care when you’re a veteran living on the Navajo reservation can be an all-day affair, starting with hours of driving to Albuquerque. Last week, the Navajo Nation Council unanimously approved more than $2 million to fund a veterans service center on tribal land.   

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

After an extra long campaign season in Albuquerque, voters gave Democrat Tim Keller a big win in last night’s runoff mayoral election against Republican Dan Lewis. Keller said the high voter turnout and decisive victory constitutes a mandate. 

t_and_cake via Flickr / Creative Commons License

The federal government is giving nearly $400,000 to tribes in New Mexico to fund permanent housing for Native American veterans who are homeless. It’s the first time federal housing grants of this kind have been made to tribes.

Healthcare For New Mexico's Veterans

Apr 27, 2015
Nimfolb via Flickr / Creative Commons License

KUNM Call In Show 4/30 8a: 

Several VA healthcare facilities in New Mexico are some of the worst in the nation when it comes to wait times for appointments and case backlogs. We'll find out what veterans are experiencing when they try to get medical care, in VA facilities and elsewhere.

We'd like to hear from you! Email callinshow@kunm.org, post your comments online or call in live during the show. 

Guests:

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The Associated Press looked at data from medical facilities for veterans around the U.S. and reported that four in New Mexico were among the worst when it comes to long waits for appointments. 

Veterans using VA clinics in Farmington, Santa Fe and Rio Rancho, and the hospital in Albuquerque, might be waiting a long time for health care. Those facilities were near the top of the AP’s list, with Farmington coming in No. 6—out of 940. 

Courtesy of Amber Royster

Amber Royster is a sixth-generation New Mexican and Navy veteran who served in the Iraq War and was deployed twice overseas. She said Bernalillo County’s advisory mental health ballot question and the secretary of state’s race are her main interests this year.

She’s a registered Green Party member, and said she generally prefers to vote on issues instead of candidates. She’s voting for Democrat Maggie Toulouse Oliver for secretary of state because that office can allow direct issues-based questions onto the polls.

Courtesy of Pete Comstock

Veteran Pete Comstock was wounded in Vietnam—once by a hand grenade and once by an AK-47—and he’s recovered physically. “I have some combat trauma issues that I had to deal with as I was recovering coming back. But today, most days I’m pretty normal.”

Comstock, a Republican from Cedar Crest, relies on VA health services and said he zeroes in on issues affecting veterans during every election cycle. In particular, he wants to ensure candidates will commit funding and support to medical care for returning soldiers, address military sexual trauma and work to stop the wars.

Marisa Demarco

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced this week that it’s decreasing the beds available at Albuquerque’s VA Medical Center—the only such inpatient facility in New Mexico.

The news that the VA is cutting the number of inpatient beds from 150 to 120 doesn’t sit right with Mike Gallegos, a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart Medal recipient from Los Lunas.

Marisa Demarco

Wednesday’s town hall was heated, as veterans gathered in Albuquerque to raise concerns about VA health care with the state’s administration.

Hands in the audience were still raised as the two-hour meeting drew to a close. Scores of veterans who got a chance to speak complained of extremely long wait times, rushed care and bad communication with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

VA Town Hall on Saturday

Jun 4, 2014
Veterans Health Administration

  Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation have lots of questions for officials with the New Mexico Veterans Affairs health care system, but the answers have been few.

And more concerns are being raised by U.S. Rep. Michele Lujan Grisham following revelations that thousands of veterans were left in limbo by being assigned to a doctor who didn't actually see patients.

The New Mexico Democrat has asked for the results of an internal review of the New Mexico VA, but local officials have yet to comply.

Udall Calls For Investigation Of Albuquerque VA Hospital

May 20, 2014
expertinfantry via Flickr / Creative Commons License

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall has called for federal authorities to broaden their investigation into alleged secret waiting lists at VA hospitals to include Albuquerque after whistleblower reports that the VA hospital in New Mexico's largest city is plagued with problems.

The Veterans Affairs Department is grappling with allegations of treatment delays, preventable deaths and a cover up by top administrators that were first reported in the VA system in Arizona.

KUNM Public Health New Mexico reporter Marisa Demarco breaks it down with the highlights of public health news for 2013.

Voices Behind the Vote - Part 10: Gut Instinct

Oct 30, 2012

As we close in on the last few days of the election season, the KUNM News Team has been hitting the streets, trying to get a sense of what's propelling New Mexicans to cast their votes.

“My name's Romeo Rocha…”

Romeo says when his mom was pregnant with him, his dad took her to see Romeo and Juliet, hence the name.

Romeo: “Yeah when you are younger and everyone is making fun with you it seems like a curse but after awhile you get used to it.”