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Organization aims to help veterans

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Charles Dickens
  • 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Throughout the country, there are many veterans who are at risk for becoming homeless with nobody to turn to. In the Clovis, New Mexico, area, however, Cannon Airmen volunteer at a non-profit organization that aims to reduce and eliminate the number of homeless veterans throughout the state.

The Freedom Foundation of Eastern New Mexico focuses on ensuring that veterans are provided amenities and essentials needed for sustainable living.

“We’re currently housing four veterans, providing an actual house for them,” said Tech. Sgt. Justin Santamaria, 43rd Intelligence Squadron tactical system operator and vice president of Freedom Foundation ENM. “To date, the total count is 59 veterans that have been housed or aided in some form or another. We manage five properties; two are livable and we’re in the process of raising more money to make the others livable.”

The organization was recognized by the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness as the best new rural homeless program in New Mexico. They have managed to raise approximately $50,000, used specifically for supporting veterans of the armed services in eastern New Mexico.

“Eastern New Mexico does not have a very strong support system for our homeless or needy veterans; that is where we come in,” said Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Teska, 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron specialty maintenance team noncommissioned officer-in-charge. “We help them by providing a place to call home and getting in contact with other agencies that can help with their emotional, spiritual or physical needs.”

Though the non-profit organization is doing good for the local community, it is still a relatively small establishment with a board of directors consisting of seven people. Because of the size, they rely on others volunteering their time to help make a difference.

Santamaria said that an estimated 95 percent of Freedom Foundation of ENM volunteers come from Cannon Air Force Base, with many squadrons participating together.

“We are a fairly small organization right now, but we have hopes and goals of growing and being able to support and help more of our homeless veterans become self-sufficient,” Teska said.

In 2017 alone, 29 local veterans have been provided aid with resources and essentials for living. With the assistance of Cannon Air Commandos, the number of homeless veterans in the Eastern New Mexico area are being reduced each year.