BELEN — A familiar face is back in the city of Belen to serve veterans throughout Valencia County.

Robert Miller is the certified veteran service officer manning the New Mexico Department of Veterans’ Services field office in the Hub City. After 18 years in law enforcement, including the Belen Police Department, Miller now works for the state, assisting veterans in getting their state and federal benefits.

“I have had so many people come in here, even from the Vietnam era, that don’t know if they qualify for certain benefits,” Miller said. “If they have a disability claim, we will help them through that process where we can fill out the forms and send it to the Veterans Administration.”

Julia M. Dendinger | News-Bulletin photo
Robert Miller is the certified veteran service officer at the New Mexico Department of Veterans’ Services field office in Belen. Veterans from Valencia County and the region can make an appointment with him to file benefits claims and find out what state and federal benefits they should be receiving.

One thing that is making it easier for veterans to get their disability benefits is the PACT Act, Miller said.

Signed into law in August 2022, the act expands VA health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxic substances. The PACT Act adds 20-plus health conditions that are presumed to be caused by exposure to hazards such as air pollutants and radiation.

“This is especially true for Vietnam and Gulf War vets, even some World War II veterans, because there are these presumptive conditions,” he said. “Meaning if you served in a certain area during a specific period of time, and you’ve developed certain cancers and other conditions which are supported by medical records, you would automatically qualify to receive those benefits.”

A veteran service officer’s primary goal is to help veterans claim their benefits, Miller said, “because they deserve them. A lot of veterans think their condition isn’t as bad as other people, like ‘I’m not as bad as that veteran, so let’s give that money to them.’ What people don’t understand is, there’s so much money.

“Every veteran can receive their compensation for serving their country if they have disabilities. If you look at New Mexico, 8.8 percent of our populations are veterans. In Valencia County, we have about 6,500 veterans.”

In addition to the more commonly known medical and disability services, veterans are also eligible for benefits, such as reductions in property taxes, vehicle registrations and special license plates.

“There are all sorts of things that veterans don’t know they can receive,” Miller said, a disabled veteran himself. “Even I didn’t know personally the benefits I could get as a veteran in New Mexico or my federal benefits.

“We want to be able to get the word out there that they have these benefits and we want to help them get them,” Miller said. “We want to walk down the road with them. A lot of times, I like to say that I want to walk through the fire with the veteran because they think sometimes they’re just out there alone.

“Maybe they’re scared or they feel ashamed when they shouldn’t be. I want to be there. We want to be there as the New Mexico Department of Veterans’ Services and walk through the fire with these veterans. Help them out and guide them down a road that they shouldn’t go alone.”

Now that he’s settled into DVS field office in the Belen Business Center, Miller says he hopes to be “overwhelmed with appointments. I just want veterans to know we’re here to help and we’re going to try and get them through the process as painlessly as possible.”

To increase their likelihood of having their claim approved, veterans should bring the following documents to their appointment with Miller or any veteran service officer:

  • DD-214, WD AGO 53-55 (WWII) and/or other military discharge
  • Marriage certificate if applicable
  • Dates of all previous marriages/divorces for you and spouse
  • Birth certificates, if applicable, for all dependent children
  • Previous VA letters, if available
  • Bank name, routing and account numbers direct deposit

The Belen DVS field office is at 719 S. Main St., inside the Belen Business Center. To make an appointment, call Robert Miller at 505-537-9339 or send an email to [email protected].

For more information about veterans’ benefits and services in New Mexico, visit

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Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.