Rural Veterans Coordination Program will host a focus group Wednesday at the Northern Navajo Veterans Center in Shiprock

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FARMINGTON — San Juan College is partnering with the state Department of Veterans Services to develop new support programs for veterans.

The college’s Rural Veterans Coordination Program will host a focus group Wednesday at the Northern Navajo Veterans Center in Shiprock, according to program director Brad Maxwell.

Maxwell said the program was founded in June to collect information on topics that affect veterans and then create programs to meet their needs.

"The ultimate plan is to take data from the focus group and launch a new initiative to help veterans that could hopefully be adopted by other educational institutions in the state," Maxwell said.

The college is partnering with the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services to conduct the research as part of a $300,000 grant that will fund the program through September 2017.

The state veterans department received the grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The Rural Veterans Coordination Pilot Grant Program supports veterans and families who live in rural or underserved areas of the country, according to the state department website.

Organizers hope the focus groups will shed light on how local veterans are handling issues related to education, rehabilitation, transportation and employment, as well concerns specific to female veterans.

A guest speaker at each focus group will discuss a topic in-depth. At the Shiprock event, a representative from the state veterans department will discuss issues pertaining to female veterans.

Problems faced by female veterans and transportation are among the topics Maxwell said Four Corners veterans face.

"I know we don’t have a lot of programs and initiatives for women veterans," he said.

Veterans in rural areas nationwide struggle with getting transportation to veterans facilities for health care, Maxwell said.

Lunch and prizes will be provided at each focus group.

Maxwell hopes to schedule an event at San Juan College next month.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

If you go

What: San Juan College Rural Veterans Coordination Program focus group

When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Northern Navajo Veterans Center in Building 5080 on Tachiinnii Boulevard in Shiprock.

Information: For more information or register for the event, call 505-566-3967 or email maxwellb@sanjuancollege.edu.

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