Although all 26 field offices throughout New Mexico are closed, the New Mexico Division of Vocational Rehabilitation encourages people with disabilities in the state looking for employment to begin the application process on the DVR website, email or by phone.

“We are still providing all of the exact same employment services we did if when you visited our offices to apply in person,” said Michael O’Brien, DVR’s Rehabilitation Services administrator, who oversees more than 130 vocational rehabilitation counselors and staff throughout the state. “You can go on the referral page on our website, fill out that information and one of our counselors will reach out to you and help you start the process.”

“Ensuring DVR’s employment services continue throughout pandemic restrictions is our greatest priority,” said DVR Director Diane Mourning Brown. “From the moment pandemic restrictions were imposed last March, our counselors and staff statewide shifted gears and found new ways to provide employment services to current and prospective participants.”

Services include:

• Providing qualified VR Counseling staff to help break through roadblocks in the workplace while guiding the participant through the employment process;

• Assisting in seeking out a career that fits the participant based on his/her interests, skills, and abilities;

• Preparing the participant for the entry-level job that will launch a career path;

• Providing guidance on how to access employment-related laws such as the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and accessing proper accommodations;

• Providing access to assistive technologies; and

• Providing basic information about Social Security and Ticket to Work benefits.

DVR’s Los Lunas office, which was relocated from Belen last summer, is currently staffed with a supervising counselor, two vocational counselors, one rehabilitation technician and an administrative assistant. The office serves Bosque Farms, Los Lunas, Belen and Mountainair.

“The team at the Los Lunas office is excited to enhance relationships and contribute to our booming local economy,” said Anthony Harkness, the office’s program manager. “We look forward to exploring employment opportunities for those clients that are needing support returning to work, developing ‘on-the-job’ opportunities for high school students to obtain work experience, and enhancing our relationship with the supportive employment community.”

NMDVR would also like to remind high school students with disabilities and their parents that students can connect with a vocational rehabilitation counselor at school as part of their individualized educational program (IEP) or preemployment transition services plan.

Referrals can continue to be submitted on the website at referral.dvr.nm.gov. A list of these numbers is on its website at dvr.state.nm.us/locations-contact-us.aspx.

Additional information about services for individuals with disabilities and DVR is available on its website at dvr.state.nm.us.

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The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.