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NM vets secretary honors vets, touts accomplishments

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New Mexico Secretary of Veterans Services Jack Fox speaks to a meeting of the Chaves County Federated Republican Women Wednesday at the Elks Lodge at 1720 North Montana Ave. In his remarks, Fox spoke about the importance of honoring veterans and his department’s accomplishments over the past four years. (Alex Ross Photo)

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Jack Fox, New Mexico secretary of Veterans Services, spoke about the need to honor the sacrifices made by veterans and some of the progress his department has made to increase care to veterans during a luncheon meeting of the Chaves County Federated Republican Women.

On the lower left, Jack Fox, New Mexico secretary of veterans services, poses for a group photo with local veterans at Wednesday’s meeting of the Chaves County Federated Republican Women. (Alex Ross Photo)

Fox, a graduate of New Mexico Military Institute and retired brigadier general, has been the state’s secretary of veterans services for the last four years.

In his remarks, Fox noted that this month marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

He said that it is remembered to appreciate the sacrifices veterans of past wars and past generations made.

“If we fail to remember that we are dishonoring what they did,” he said.

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Though New Mexico had only been a state for five years, more than 14,000 men signed up or were drafted to fight in World War I. New Mexico had the fifth largest percentage of volunteers per capita of any state to go fight in World War I, Fox said.

New Mexico was one of the first to form the Women’s Land Army, where women orchestrated drives and maintained farmland during the war, Fox said.

He said that during his time in his current post — and with the support of outgoing Gov. Susana Martinez, the New Mexico Legislature and employees at the Department of Veterans Services — the department focused on laying the foundation for better care in three areas: women veterans, transportation and dealing with and aging veteran population.

Women are more likely to be homeless and unemployed than male veterans, he said.

He said women who are in the military face different challenges than men and often do not feel comfortable talking about those challenges with men. The Department of Veteran’s Services has begun building a women’s veterans program.

“We don’t have all the answers but we are on the path to building it,” Fox said.

He also said Veterans Services is figuring out ways to make transportation more accessible to veterans in rural areas and looking at how to care for aging veterans.

Oversight of the state’s one Veteran’s Home in New Mexico was recently moved from the New Mexico Department of Health to Veterans Services.

After Fox’s speech, all veterans in the audience were called up one by one and honored.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.