By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
“The important thing is to help veterans get the help that they need and to let them know there is no shame in seeking help,” according to Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Day, a member of the New Mexico Army National Guard.
Day was the special quest speaker at Wednesday’s Welcome Home Veterans breakfast hosted at the VFW Post 2528 in Tucumcari; the post’s women’s auxiliary cooked and served breakfast to veterans and guests before Day’s presentation.
“I know from experience, that when you return from deployment, there are some issues that you need help dealing with,” Day said.
Day, has 40 years of service and is set to retire this year.
Day said following his second deployment to the Middle East, he had some experiences that affected him upon his return home. He said many soldiers who return from combat deployment try to cope with their issues alone.
Day said sometimes they are able to make the adjustment on their own, but many need assistance. He said there are programs to help those active servicemen and women returning from deployment and veterans who may be struggling with issues including post traumatic stress disorder.
Day said active-duty personnel, as well as veterans, do not know about the services that are available to them. He said sometimes it is due to lack of information about the services or the distance one must travel to a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facility.
A week earlier U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich visited veterans at Post 2528 during his visit to Tucumcari.
“It boosted local veterans’ morale,” said post commander Richard Martinez of Heinrich’s visit. He explained that it helps when officials meet with veterans in person. The visits, he said, make veterans feel as though they have a voice and are not being overlooked.
Heinrich said he and his staff are seeking to improve access to health care for veterans who live in areas where they must travel great distances — such as in eastern New Mexico — to obtain care at a veterans health facility.
Heinrich said, “We’ve got to find better ways to meet veterans where they are and New Mexico is certainly a case study for that, in finding ways to connect veterans to service without them always having to travel such a great distance.”
He added, “There are still a lot of challenges on that front so we are going to be working on that until the system works better for these incredible people who have done so much for our country.”
Day left information packets, books and material at VFW Post 2528 outlining how to check on which veterans’ benefits might be available.