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Army veteran receives humanitarian award

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Clyde Long, recipient of the Sunrise Optimist Club’s first-ever Humanitarian Award, points to his various pins on his U.S. Army hat. Last week, Long was recognized for his volunteer work as a driver with Southeast New Mexico Veterans Transportation Network, a Roswell-based nonprofit free medical transportation service for veterans. (Alison Penn Photo)

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A local man has been recognized by a civic club for humanitarian efforts for veterans.

Clyde Long is the recipient for the first-ever Sunrise Optimist Club’s Humanitarian Award for his volunteer work as a driver with Southeast New Mexico Veterans Transportation Network (SENMVTN), a Roswell-based nonprofit medical transportation service provided to veterans at no charge. 

Long explained the network as being similar to the Pony Express. He said drivers pick up veterans in need of transportation and drive them to closer locations to get to their appointments all over New Mexico, and in some cases, West Texas. He has been a driver for over two years and drives at least once a week. Over the last year, the network has made somewhere between 900 to 960 trips with veterans in tow.

“This is the biggest requirement — is transportation for a lot of these veterans,” Long said. “There’s so many things out there for the veterans, but a lot of guys don’t take advantage of it or they don’t know about it, so we just want to get the word out. And even though, maybe they don’t need transportation, but they need something else — if they will call us, as a general rule, we can get some information to them …” 

At this time, Long explained the veterans’ transport has about 27 drivers and 10 vans stationed in Lovington, Carlsbad, Artesia and six (soon-to-be seven) vans are in Roswell — and two more vans coming next year with wheelchair accessible ramps. Long said the transportation network’s operating budget is around $70,000 and the network runs on donations; Long added the local Elks Lodge and some oil and gas companies have helped significantly.

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The SENMVTN can be reached at 575-622-0729 and the physical location is 2114 W. Second St.

 

Award

Long was recognized on Feb. 27 by the Sunrise Optimist Club. Club board member Roger Burnett and club President Bud Hewett said they invited Long to come speak at the club meeting and surprised him with the award. Burnett and Hewett said the 31-member club is a youth-focused civic club with projects such as the Poe Corn Baseball Tournament, scholarships and assisting with other events like the science olympiad and outdoor fishing days. 

Long said he felt humbled to be recognized by the Sunrise Optimists and said that others involved with the SENMVTN, such as President Magil Duran and Administrative Manager Alice Wood were more deserving. Long said he now serves as vice president of the SENMVTN since the former one stepped down. 

“I have known Clyde Long for many years and have been aware of his dedication and service to the veterans for some time now,” Burnett said. “A lot of what he does comes out of his own personal pocket. When he had health issues, he still continued to service his fellow veterans.

“For these reasons and others, the Sunrise Optimist Club decided to award him the Sunrise Optimist Humanitarian Award — an award he truly earned and deserves,” Burnett said.

As another surprise, Hewett and Burnett also presented Long with a $500 donation to the SENMVTN at the Daily Record on Wednesday. Burnett said the club approved of awarding the check at their meeting that same morning. Burnett, Hewett and Long agreed that veterans transport services need to be brought to citizens’ and veterans’ attention. 

Long stressed the importance of veterans taking care of their health and hopes more veterans will know about the SENMVTN.

 

Background

Born in Roswell, Long, 69, lives in East Grand Plains on the Long’s Honey Farm, his childhood home. He and his wife Genny love to travel and will be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary this spring. Stargazing and scuba diving are also among the couple’s hobbies.

Long has been a honeybee keeper and business owner for 22 years, an educator, and is a retired U.S. Army veteran. Long served in the U.S. Army from 1972 to 1993, which led him to live in various places and to attending flight school, serving as an operations officer and teaching combat tactics as a professor.

As a kid, he attended East Grand Plains Elementary School and he also lived in Puerto Rico, from fourth through sixth grade, with his family since his father was in the Air Force. The family returned to Roswell where he attended Mountain View Middle School and graduated from Roswell High School in 1967.

For his higher education, Long studied at Eastern New Mexico University-Portales for his bachelor in university studies and he has two master’s degrees — one in management and the other in military arts and science. After he retired in 1993, Long went to ENMU-R to get his teaching certificate and a minor in social sciences. He taught at Washington Avenue Elementary School for eight years.

“There are two classes of people I love,” Long said. “One of them is kids and the other ones — my veterans.” 

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.