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Radio show honors military veterans, spotlights history

The Santa Fe New Mexican - 5/8/2024

May 8—As the lulling sounds of The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" faded away, Estevan Gonzales seamlessly shifted to his introduction of a talk show designed to "support our heroes."

"Welcome to Thank You for Your Service," Gonzales said to those tuning into the monthly KSWV radio program that showcases and honors all things related to military veterans and those who love and support them.

"Ready for the biggest show of your life?" Gonzales asked the show's two hosts — veterans Ken Dettelbach and Gary Donato — and their guest star for the day, Eleanor B. Ortiz.

Ortiz is the regent — sort of like the president, she said — of the Stephen Watts Kearny Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She quickly connected the revolution to territorial New Mexico in the late 1700s.

Turns out, she said, the Santa Fe Presidio Soldiers, as the territory's Spanish fighters were called, were required to donate a one-time payment of $2 to support the war of independence against Great Britain.

"Spain didn't like England," she said, generating laughs in the recording studio of the local radio station, known to listeners as Que Suave.

The 30-minute show often ties historical military events and people to the everyday lives of active and retired servicemen and women in the local community.

More than anything, Dettelbach said, the show aims to tell the story of New Mexico veterans and provide information about resources and support systems that could help them.

"Those in need don't necessarily know how to get help or where to get help," Donato said.

The radio program, which kicked off in March 2023, also helps keep veteran issues at the forefront, added Donato, a U.S. Navy veteran.

Dettelbach, who served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, runs R&R for Vets, a veteran support group that offers free home improvement projects, like roof repairs, to veterans and their surviving spouses.

He also helped spearhead the Veterans Legacy Program, in which Santa Fe Community College students research the histories of veterans buried at the Santa Fe National Cemetery and interview their surviving relatives and friends about their lives.

The radio show is an outreach component of those programs, he said.

Past guests on the show include those who work for state agencies that serve veterans, including Theresa Figueroa, who until her retirement last week ran the women veterans program for the state Department of Veterans Services.

Brig. Gen. Jamison Herrera, secretary of the department, wrote in an email Tuesday military veterans are eligible to apply for a number of benefits "that can improve those post-service lives and those of their family members."

Thank You For Your Service provides "an opportunity for Northern New Mexico's veterans and their families to keep informed about any changes to existing benefits or learn of new programs and benefits introduced by the state and the VA," he added.

The show may remind some of the late Chuck Zobac's regular radio show, Calling All Veterans, which ran on KVSF 101.5 FM for years until it ended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Ortiz, an Oklahoma-born teacher and historian who came to Santa Fe in the mid-1960s, Thank You For Your Service provides a valuable resource for the community.

Radio, she said, "keeps the community alive, and this program does that, too."


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