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Thursday, December 20, 2007

RICHARDSON: Richardson and Veterans Discuss Effects of Iraq War on Military Families

Richardson and Veterans Discuss Effects of Iraq War on Military Families
For Immediate Release
December 20, 2007
Contact: Tom Reynolds

WATERLOO, IA-- New Mexico Governor and Democratic Presidential candidate Bill Richardson today will hold a roundtable discussion on the toll that the Iraq war is taking on veterans and military families. Governor Richardson will be joined at the event by New Mexico Secretary of Veterans Affairs John Garcia, Vietnam veteran Rick Bolanos, Iraq veteran Sergeant Julie Gorman of Iowa, and Sue Dinsdale of Huxley, Iowa, the mother of an Iraq veteran.

As other candidates have shifted away from discussing the Iraq war, Governor Richardson continues to promote his plan to withdraw all American troops and properly treat returning veterans and their wounds, both physical and mental.

"Some of my fellow candidates have decided to stop talking about Iraq," Richardson said. "Some have said that we can change America at home while keeping troops in Iraq for perhaps five years or longer. That is not an equation that adds up. The fact is that we cannot move forward on any domestic issues while our troops remain in Iraq."

Sergeant Gorman, who served in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, suffers from a service connected disability. Dinsdale is the mother of an Iraq veteran with a service connected disability.

"When I am President, our veterans will have a Heroes Health Card so that they can get the care they deserve wherever they need it," Richardson said. "I will guarantee full mandatory funding for the VA (Department of Veterans Affairs). It is essential that we fix Walter Reed and the rest of our military hospitals. Also, we are going to treat mental trauma, such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) the same way that we treat physical wounds-- like the battlefield injuries that they are.

"As President, I will reduce the federal income tax on veterans by five percent for the rest of their lives. Senator Jim Webb is exactly right on this issue. I also will eliminate the federal income tax on all troops in their first year out of the military. We are going to do right by military families."

Secretary Garcia and Vietnam veteran Bolanos both have worked extensively with Governor Richardson on veterans issues.

"Vets are coming back from Iraq with serious physical and mental wounds," Garcia said. "The next President is going to have to do more than just say the right things. Bill Richardson has a long record of getting it done for veterans."

Please find biographies of the roundtable participants below:

John Garcia

Secretary John Garcia brings with him a background in strategic planning, business development, and community relations. He is well-known to the veterans community and was a Commissioner on the predecessor state veterans body, the New Mexico Veterans Service Commission.

Secretary Garcia served in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam in 1969-1970 as a member of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division. He is a founding member of the Vietnam Veterans of New Mexico and served as the National Deputy Director of the Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program in Washington, D.C.

During the period immediately preceding his appointment as Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Veterans Services, Garcia was the president of Garcia and Associates, a consulting company providing governmental affairs, business development, marketing, and public relations services.

Secretary Garcia formerly served in the administration of New Mexico Governor Bruce King as Deputy Chief of Staff and Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Economic Development Department. Prior to his service in state government, Garcia was the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce.

Secretary Garcia is the current president of the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs (NASDVA), an association consisting of the top veterans affairs official in each of the 50 states. The U.S. Small Business Administration recognized Secretary Garcia as the 2006 New Mexico "Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year."

Secretary Garcia has been a member of numerous boards, committees, and task forces, including the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque Explora Museum, Governor’s Business Advisory Council, Shared Vision of Albuquerque, International Trade Council of New Mexico, Albuquerque Little Theater, and the Inter American Bank of New Mexico. He is a founding member of the New Mexico Hispanic Genealogy Research Center and the recipient of the De Colores New Mexico Hispanic Business Leadership Award, Mexican American Foundation's National Hispanic Leadership Award, American Center's International Leadership Award, and Washington DC's Action Agency ACTION Award. The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce recognized him as Advocate of the Year for Minority Business, and he received the Profile of Courage Award from the Vietnam Veterans of New Mexico.

Rick Bolanos

In 1966, Rick Bolanos joined his brothers Louis, Ben, and Bill in volunteering for military service in Vietnam. The Bolanos family was the only one in the United States to have four brothers who served in that conflict at the same time. Born in Texas to immigrant parents, the brothers were taught from the beginning the importance of service to their country. Each brother joined a different branch of the Armed Forces: Louis, the Navy; Ben, the Marine Corps; Bill, the Army Green Berets; and Rick, the Army Airborne. Three of the four brothers served in combat together, and two were wounded. The Bolanos brothers were cited for their patriotism by President Lyndon Johnson, and in 2004, the Texas Legislature passed a resolution honoring their military service.

Rick Bolanos received a BA in Management and an MBA from New Mexico Highlands University, and he has spent time as a teacher. In 2004, he toured the nation with his brothers to encourage civil participation in the election, particularly by veterans.

Julie Gorman

A veteran of the Iraq war with a service connected disability, Iowa resident Julie Gorman served 22 years in the Army Reserves, earning the rank of Sergeant First Class E-7. Gorman served in Iraq from May 2003 through May 2004 with the 389th Combat Engineers.

Sue Dinsdale

A resident of Huxley, Iowa, Sue Dinsdale is the mother of an Iraq veteran with a service connected disability who served two tours in Iraq. Dinsdale also is the wife of a Vietnam veteran.

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