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Statement by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson Honoring America's Veterans on Memorial Day

May 28, 2007

SANTA FE, NM -- Today, Governor Bill Richardson issued the following statement commemorating America's brave men and women veterans.

"Memorial Day is a time to thank those that have served and sacrificed for our country," said Governor Bill Richardson. "Military service is one of most noble acts an individual can perform and we have an obligation and duty to support those that risk their lives for our country. In New Mexico, we have a proud tradition of answering the call to serve our nation and as Governor I have made it a top priority to return that support by ensuring that those serving in our U.S. military and their families are provided financial assistance and access to benefits they so deserve."

As an international diplomat, Bill Richardson throughout his career in public service has shown a commitment to championing the issues of our national veterans and military personnel.

Most recently, in April of this year, Governor Richardson led a diplomatic mission to North Korea that successfully returned the remains of six U.S. soldiers killed during the Korean War.

Governor Bill Richardson's Record of Supporting our Troops and their Families:

  • Led the nation by purchasing $400,000 life insurance premiums for every member of the New Mexico National Guard. This historic step has since been proposed by 35 other states, helping Guard personnel around the country.
  • Elevated Veterans' Affairs to his Cabinet, creating the Department of Veteran Services.
  • Eliminated state income tax for all active-duty military pay.
  • Granted extensions for activated Guard personnel to file state taxes.
  • Granted a grace period for expired drivers' licenses for Guard personnel.
  • Offered tuition refunds or credits to Guard personnel currently enrolled in school.
  • Provided free hunting and fishing licenses to all veterans for one year following their redeployment back to the U.S.
  • Granted free tuition to any New Mexico Public University for any child of a New Mexican Guardsman killed in action.
  • Committed to easing the transition between employers and their employees who have been called to serve.
  • Granted administrative leave to state employees with family members returning from Iraq.
  • Authorized 15 extra days of military leave for every soldier who's been deployed.
  • Presented former Iraqi Freedom POW Spc. Joseph Hudson with the very first "Spirit of New Mexico" Award, which is designed to recognize New Mexicans who demonstrate extraordinary courage, leadership, and devotion to state and country.
  • Invested in veterans' services:
    • Created Vietnam Veterans Memorials in Santa Fe and Angel Fire, NM.
    • Funded construction and renovations for veterans' memorials around the state, including in Farmington, Las Cruces, Gallup, Taos, T or C, and Mora, NM.
  • Provided funding to the Department of Navajo Veterans' Affairs.
  • Worked successfully to maintain and expand the missions of Cannon and Holloman Air Force Bases, and prevented closure by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.
  • Met personally with all nine members of the BRAC Commission to convince them to keep Cannon Air Force Base open, and refused to leave Washington, D.C. until he got his way.
  • Was successful in keeping Cannon Air Force Base in operation. In June of 2006, Cannon AFB's new mission to fight the war on terrorism was announced, saving 4,700 jobs in the surrounding communities and potentially adding 1,000 new military jobs.

As President, Bill Richardson will continue to fight for veterans, he will:

  • Take immediate steps to correct the disgraceful conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, other military medical centers, and VA hospitals throughout the country. Our veterans and military personnel deserve high quality healthcare, and it is a travesty to provide them with anything less.
  • Fight for a GI Bill for the 21st Century that expands the educational opportunities we provide to our military personnel.
  • Reject President Bush's efforts to divert veterans away from the VA healthcare system by increasing prescription drug co-payments and enrollment fees.
  • Expand research in prosthetics and other medical technology that improves the quality of life for veterans with disabilities.
  • Improve the Veterans Employment and Training Service so that veterans have better career opportunities.
  • Institute a "Heroes Health Card" that would provide our returning servicemen and servicewomen with a choice of physicians wherever they live. Will call on every provider in America to accept this card¬† and coordinate care with the veteran's local VA hospital.
  • Support and strengthen America's commitment to the Geneva Convention, which protects the lives and well being of our military personnel serving overseas.

Bill Richardson, Statement by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson Honoring America's Veterans on Memorial Day Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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