Veterans deserve better
As a councilman for the city of Belen and a veteran, I am deeply concerned about an issue relating to health care services for our community, especially for the 6,500 veterans living in Valencia County.
It seems that the Veterans Administration is once again making decisions that could have detrimental effects on our veteran community. If you remember, a couple of years ago, the VA tried to close a handful of rural VA clinics that were critical to certain parts of rural New Mexico. It was stopped due to the work of our Federal delegation, especially Sens. Heinrich and Lujan. This time, the VA is on the verge of implementing a new rule that would significantly cut reimbursement rates on ambulance services both on the ground and in the air.
Cutting reimbursement rates means that the cost will have to be burdened by the person receiving medical emergency treatment, or it could even mean that these services won’t be available to the individual, since the medical emergency companies would have to close their doors due to being underfunded. Either outcome is unacceptable and would hurt our veteran community.
Valencia County is home to more than 6,500 veterans who have dedicated their lives to serving our country. These brave men and women deserve the highest quality of health care services, and it is our responsibility to ensure that they receive it. This new rule could have major consequences, and it’s not just the veterans who would suffer- it would also affect the rest of the population of Valencia County.
We need the VA to re-think this decision and come up with better solutions for cutting costs. Our federal delegation has the chance to fix this, and we hope our senators and representatives will consider the best interests of our community. I implore them to take swift action and reverse this rule, given what is at stake.
Frank F. Ortega
Belen City Councilor
U.S. Marine Corps veteran
Belén: The silent passage of culture
Belen-ños might remember a word we have for the cottonwood tree berries. Some call them “tattonees” some say “tottonus.” My apologies for not spelling it right, unfortunately it’s not in a dictionary, it’s uniquely New Mexican.
I don’t think tattonee is a Spanish word; it might be a Diné (Navajo) word. The Diné word for cottonwood tree is, “T’iis.” From what I remember as a kid, we called these trees“tattonee” trees. Every spring, we always had tattonee fights and boy did they sting!
Sometimes culture within us dies quietly, like when your mom or grandma is no longer there to cook you favorite foods, only the memories are left. One such memory is that of my brother and I walking with grandma Silva to the Rio Grande to pick quelitas. It was a long walk, but their was nothing better then freshly cooked quelitas and beans.
Progress in Belén may come with a cost or can it help to preserve our history. The new Starbucks will sit in front of one of the oldest haciendas left in Belén, built in 1860 by Felipe Chavez, El Millonario/ El Cajnero (the undertaker). In time, it too may be lost to progress. I’m hopeful it will last another 100 years.
Belén has been around for 283 years as of this November. It was founded in 1740 as Nuestra Señora de Belén. In 2040, only 17 years from now, Belén will be 300 years old. How will we preserve our heritage? How are we preserving our uniquely New Mexican language? Only time will tell.
I ask these questions for all to think about our future as Belen-ños in hopes of preserving and understand the valuable history we have.
Thanks to those now gone for preserving our history, Tibo Chavez Sr., Baldwin “BG” Burr and Jim Sloan.
And thanks to those that continue the work, Maggie McDonald, Richard Melzer, Matt Baca, Ronnie Torres, Maureen McMillan, Samuel E. Sisneros, the Belén Harvey House Museum, Belen Historic Properities Review Board, Valencia County Historical Society, Los Lunas Heritage Museum of Heritage and Arts and many more.
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