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Help available in dealing with federal agencies

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New Mexico residents wanting assistance dealing with the Veterans Administration, the Social Security Administration or other federal agencies can talk with Iris Karges, a constituent services representative with U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich’s Roswell office.

Karges previously worked for Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who left office in 2013. She has 17 years of experience and now serves New Mexicans in 17 counties and 19 tribal communities, but only does outreach to eight southeastern counties.

“I do casework for individuals who are having issues with federal agencies,” said Karges. “The most common agencies people have issues with are VA (Veteran’s Administration), Social Security and Immigration. During a certain part of the year, we have a number of IRS (Internal Revenue Service) cases that come in.”

While those are the most common agencies dealt with, the office also has helped people with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Medicare, the State Department, military branches and in some instances has helped people who need services but cannot access federal buildings with the current identification they have.

She said she has direct contacts with federal agencies and, after people sign a privacy release form, can file a Congressional inquiry to track the person’s case.

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In addition, there are some situations in which she seeks to coordinate services with local agencies and programs, as in a current case involving a woman facing many different issues regarding not only medical treatment but the care of her home after being diagnosed with an illness.

“When people go to our office, it is not just a federal issue that we deal with. I like to say we go the extra mile,” she said. “Sometimes it is not favorable. We live in a small community where the resources are scarce. We try to help the individual, but there are some times when it is not in their favor.”

She also said that other office staff help communities as a whole with capital or infrastructure needs or assist with federal grants. The office also offers internships for college students and provides military academy nominations for qualified students. Heinrich also works to revise federal policies or regulations if he agrees with constituents that changes are needed, with an example given that Heinrich helped to change a federal policy that limited the distance veterans could travel to a veterans clinic to be covered for medical care.

The Roswell office can be contacted at 575-622-7113.