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Press Release - Governor Bill Richardson Refuses to Wait for Washington; Takes Action to Help Veterans Access Services

March 06, 2007

SANTA FE – Governor Bill Richardson today outlined several initiatives, and announced new efforts to help veterans, including those veterans returning to New Mexico from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"In the last week, the American people have been shocked and embarrassed by the horrendous conditions of facilities serving American soldiers wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq," Governor Richardson said.

"They – we all – should be just as embarrassed by the lack of attention given to our proud veterans returning home from the battle zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am especially concerned about the desperate need to treat veterans who may be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"While this may be primarily a federal issue, I am not going to sit back and accept it," Governor Richardson said. "While Congress holds hearings and assesses blame for this unacceptable situation -- I am taking action."

Governor Richardson announced today that he will ask legislators to increase the money currently in the budget to train therapists on the effective treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from $200,000 to $500,000. The money is designed to increase outpatient and community-based services, and to direct treatment to soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. This amount will allow New Mexico to train 50 therapists to increase access to effective treatments.

Governor Richardson is also urging the Legislature to:

  • Fund $1 million in facility upgrades at the state-run Veteran's Center in T or C.
  • Add another $650-thousand dollars in funding for telehealth -- to increase access and close gaps for telepsychiatry, which is vital for veterans.
  • Fund $650,000 for the Las Vegas Armory Veterans' Service Center.
  • Fund $250,000 for 5 additional veterans' service officers.

Governor Richardson will also push to incorporate a new primary care clinic at the new nursing facility being built at Fort Bayard in Silver City. The clinic would allow Vets access to needed treatment without traveling to Albuquerque. Fort Bayard will leverage pharmacy, lab and x-ray to provide comprehensive services.

Two months ago, the Governor created a unique collaboration – his Behavioral Health Czar brought together health and clinical providers, UNM and Intel with our state Department of Veterans Affairs, the federal Veteran Affairs to develop a model to treat returning soldiers.

Governor Richardson announced today a small task force that will recommend ways to better coordinate all of these services. I am asking Dr. Dale Alverson, General Montoya, Human Services Secretary Pam Hyde, Veterans Services Secretary John Garcia, Bob Mayer of the Health Department and my Behavioral Health Czar Linda Roebuck.

Bill Richardson, Press Release - Governor Bill Richardson Refuses to Wait for Washington; Takes Action to Help Veterans Access Services Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/295000

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