Veterans Services secretary to depart
SANTA FE – The Office of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday announced that New Mexico Department of Veterans Services Secretary Sonya Smith will depart the administration next month as she relocates to be closer to family.
“I am very grateful to Secretary Smith for her service to New Mexicans at the Department of Veterans Services,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “I wish her and her family all the best moving forward.”
“My deepest thanks to Gov. Lujan Grisham for trusting me to serve New Mexico veterans – it has been an honor and a privilege to be a member of this administration,” said Secretary Smith. “I have loved my many years of service in New Mexico, but I am looking forward to being able to be closer to family members.”
Under Gov. Lujan Grisham’s leadership, Smith supported the enactment of an income tax exemption for armed forces retirees and oversaw the launch of the Rural Veterans Transportation Program, which provides cost-free round-trip transportation for New Mexico veterans from 15 counties categorized as “highly rural” to any Veterans Administration or VA-approved medical appointment. During Smith’s tenure, the Department of Veterans Services also increased the number of Veterans Service Officers to the department’s highest number ever, increasing ready access to services for veterans throughout the state; reinstated the Women Veterans Program, increasing service to the fastest-growing demographic in military affairs; and established a full-time department tribal liaison to better support Native American veterans.
A veteran of the Gulf War, Smith served as a medical technician in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm as a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve, from which she received an honorable discharge. She earned a bachelor’s degree in health services management from Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Va., and a master’s in health care compliance from Argosy University.
Smith will officially depart the administration on November 11. The governor’s office is in the process of selecting interim leadership for the department, which will be in place prior to Smith’s departure.