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Dedicated to serving veterans

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

The Veterans Service Officer (VSO) has an important job. Not only do they assist veterans and their eligible dependents with filing for their federal and state benefits, most VSOs also have regularly scheduled outreach visits to their surrounding communities. The person wearing this badge of honor, so to speak, in Roswell is focused, passionate about her work, determined and proud to help.

Danielle Thompson (Submitted Photo)

Danielle Thompson is the Department of Veterans Service VSO based in the agency’s Roswell office. A 2007 graduate of Ruidoso High School, she enlisted in the U.S. Navy as an operational specialist shortly after graduating. Thompson said, “While in service, I served two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, with my first command at ComPhibron Two/Amphibious Squadron Two, and then the USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) — before completing my service four years later as a Petty Officer/Third Class, Surface Warfare/Air Warfare.”

Thompson kept her focus on aiding veterans.

“I learned of the job opening in late 2017, while working at Income Support Division. After the hiring process, I started with New Mexico Department of Veterans Services on Jan. 1, 2018. Being a veteran, I always wanted to help my fellow veterans and friends; in fact, it is something that I always wanted to do after my naval service came to a close. It is a very rewarding job, I must say. Knowing that I am helping my fellow veterans and changing their lives makes my day.”

Thompson speaks highly of the agency, and explained more specifically what they’re all about: “Our agency’s mission is to serve New Mexico’s veterans and their families. Our primary responsibility is to help veterans and eligible dependents with filing for, or updating, their VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) or state veteran’s benefits.

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“Filing for VA health care, pensions or disability payments can be a complicated task for veterans who choose to file on their own,” Thompson said. “Any mistakes they make could result in them not getting the full benefits they’ve so rightly earned; or, worse yet, being denied their benefits altogether. These are benefits which veterans have merited through their service and sacrifice to our country. And DVS VSOs, like myself, are trained to help with the filing process — to eliminate all mistakes, so that veterans can get their full earned benefits in a timely manner.”

Thompson’s hard work doesn’t stop there. She continues by opening the door to other niches the government has in place to help and serve those who sacrificed to protect the lives of others.

“When it comes to the department, we also help veterans who need help with finding employment, starting or expanding their own business, transportation issues, suicide prevention, help for homeless veterans and many more issues. If we can’t solve it ourselves, we have built strong relationships with numerous state, federal and local agencies to which we can immediately refer a veteran for help.”

Thompson addressed changes the department has made in response to the pandemic.

“Though DVS Veterans Service Officers are not able to meet in person with veterans, there hasn’t been any interruption in our operations,” she said. “We’re still able to continue assisting via phone, email, or videoconferencing. DVS VSOs can intake all necessary information, receive and attach pertinent documents, and send applications electronically to the VA … or for state veterans benefits, to the appropriate agencies in Santa Fe. We’re confident that we can still continue to provide our assistance for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Today’s technology is a wonderful thing. Once the governor and the state Department of Health gives the ‘all clear’ for state employees to return to working from our offices, I look forward to once again meeting and assisting veterans in person.”

DVS notes on its website that they “work together to provide the highest quality of care and the best quality of life for veterans and their families.”

Being a local, beginning in Lincoln County, Thompson’s positivity and excitement are evident when she speaks about her career.

“I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to not only be helping my fellow veterans, but to do it in the area where I grew up. I couldn’t ask for a better situation,” she said.

Thompson wished for everyone to know that more information is available online at nmdvs.org — or contact her directly via email at danielle.thompson@state.nm.us, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.