November 10, 2015

Lujan Honors Nation's Veterans

Introduces Bill to Support Veterans Working to Put Themselves through School

Clovis, NM – Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District is celebrating Veterans Day this morning by honoring our brave service members at American Legion Post 25 in Clovis.  Luján is joining the community in thanking New Mexico’s veterans for their service and sacrifice.  

“The men and women who have served in our nation’s armed forces over the course of our history are part of a proud tradition of protecting the freedoms and values of our great nation while representing the best of America,” Congressman Luján said.  “Whether it’s fighting the forces of tyranny or providing aid in a time of need, our servicemen and women put their lives on the line as they serve in harm’s way.  And every time they do so we owe them a debt of gratitude.  As we join together in communities across New Mexico to share our veterans’ stories of sacrifice and valor, we ensure that their enduring contributions will live on and the memory of their heroic efforts will burn brightly for generations to come.”

This Veterans Day, Rep. Luján also highlighted legislation he recently introduced in the House of Representatives to help veterans who have returned home and are pursuing an education through the GI Bill.  Currently, veterans who are attending school full-time or ¾-time are eligible to “earn while you learn” through a Work Study program.  Veteran who are paid minimum wage through this program are eligible to earn whatever is higher between the federal minimum wage and the state minimum wage.  

The local minimum wage, however, is not taken into account, meaning a student in Santa Fe could only make as much as the state minimum wage of $7.50 while other workers in the city make $10.84.  The legislation includes the local government minimum wage in order to ensure parity and support veterans as they further their education.

“Let us not forget that the true measure of how we honor our veterans will be determined by how we treat them when they return home,” added Luján.  “We must be ever vigilant to ensure that our veterans have access to the benefits that they have been promised, as well as the opportunity to use their leadership skills here at home when their service in the armed forces concludes.  The legislation I have introduced will help veterans who are going to school following their service and working to support themselves and their families.”

Following Memorial Day services at the Santa Fe National Cemetery, Gregory Scargall, a veteran who is a student at Santa Fe Community College, shared with Rep. Luján that veterans who are part of the Work Study program in college get paid less than the city’s minimum wage.

“Students are currently being paid at a rate of $7.50 an hour.  This isn’t enough for veterans living in Santa Fe, and is significantly less than the city’s minimum wage,” said U.S. Navy veteran Gregory Scargall.  “As a result, veterans are going to school, working at a work study job, and then must work another job to support their family and take care of their obligations.  This legislation would make a big difference in the lives of veterans in our community and ensure they earn the same wage as others in their city.”

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