Veteran seeks out local vets

Cannon Connections photo: Tony Bullocks Richard Robertson, a 24-year Navy veteran, is working to compile a list of local veterans to highlight their military service.

By Argen Duncan: Cannon Connections

A Cannon Air Force Base employee is trying to list every veteran possible for 110 miles.

Director of the Cannon Retiree Activities Program Richard Robertson wants to compile a roster containing the name, rank, branch of the military and war served in, if any, of every veteran willing to offer that information in Curry, Roosevelt, Quay, De Baca and Guadalupe counties. Robertson, who has held his Cannon post for 9 1/2 years, said although the list would never be complete, he hopes to make state and local governments more aware and appreciative of the veterans.

“I just want to try to make the people aware of what they got around here,” he said.

Robertson, a disabled U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran, said the list wouldn’t be exhaustive because more people are becoming veterans about every day, and some veterans would choose not to be included.

However, he hopes veterans will call or write with the information and permission to release it. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Robertson said, a veteran is anyone who has served in the military honorably for at least 180 days.

“I guess the key word there would be honorably,” Robertson said.

Robertson particularly hopes people who were honorably discharged before retirement will volunteer their information for his roster. He has access to a Pentagon list of military retirees through his job, although the Privacy Act of 1974 prevents him from releasing that data.

After a period of time he hasn’t decided yet, Robertson plans to stop collecting names and send copies of the list to the state Department of Veterans Services, city and county governments, and all veterans organizations in the five-county area.

The department’s numbers for veterans are approximate, and most local governments don’t know how many veterans are in the areas they serve, Robertson said. He said he wants governments to acknowledge that there are veterans in their jurisdictions and those people have something to offer.

Robertson doesn’t believe most people care about veterans.

American Legion Post 31 Commander Joe Blair of Portales said many people probably don’t know who is a veteran, and he believed the veteran’s organizations would want copies of Robertson’s list.

“I think it’s a good idea, myself,” he said.

The project started when Robertson found a pamphlet in the Clovis-Carver Public Library listing every member of the New Mexico Army National Guard 200th Coastal Artillery Regiment, the unit involved in the World War II Bataan Death March. He could find no list for other veterans in the five-county area.