Input sought for veterans museum

Liliana Castillo

The designers of the New Mexico Veterans Museum are holding a meeting to gain input from Clovis and Portales area veterans at the end of the month.

Retired Marine Corps Col. Joe Long, museum planner, will present a multi-media description of the project, solicit veterans ideas and answer questions.

The meeting, hosted by the Joint Veterans Council, is slated for 7 p.m. Jan. 27 at Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 3015 in Clovis.

The New Mexico Veterans Museum was created by the New Mexico Legislature in 2009. Using money set aside through legislation, RMKM Architects of Albuquerque was contracted to design a 30,000-square-foot building that will be the cornerstone of a campus of veteran-oriented facilities, including an artifact management facility, a veterans services center, a military-style parade grounds, family picnic and playground area, walking trails and eventually, a memorial park.

Long said the museum’s purpose is twofold. He said it will pay tribute to New Mexico’s veterans, past, present and future. Second, it will educate people about the service of New Mexicans throughout the world, military installations and activities within the state, beginning as far back as the early 1500s.

“We have a fascinating history here. We want visitors to come in and get a sense of the sacrifice and become educated about our history,” Long said.

The meeting in Clovis is one of 15 Long will host statewide.

“We want to inform veterans about what’s going on with it and also get their input. We’re in the design phase and as we move into the schematic design phase, we want their input,” Long said.

Long has hosted meetings in Carlsbad, Las Cruces, the future hometown of the museum, and Los Alamos this week.

Long said he is in the process of acquiring 32 acres owned by the Bureau of Land Management two miles east of I-95 on the Alamogordo Highway in Las Cruces for the museum. The project will apply for another 33 acres at a later date.

Clovis veteran Vernon Luce called the museum “a very good thing” for the state.

“Washington D.C. has all these memorials for veterans but they are for veterans all over the country. This will be just veterans from New Mexico. I’m all for it,” Luce said.

Luce said that gaining input from veterans is a good place for the project to start.

Chairman of the JVC, John Fondrick, said that a history of each of New Mexico’s bases will be included in the museum. Thus far, he has striven to stir up interest in the museum project so that veterans can provide their input.

Joe Blair, American Legion post 31 in Portales commander, said that any museum for veterans is a good thing.

“If it’s going to be a veterans museum, then veterans is who they need to be talking to,” Blair said.