ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Some New Mexico National Guardsmen who spent much of last year on dangerous peacekeeping duty in Egypt claim they're now being stiffed by the state of New Mexico.
Unable to find civilian jobs, they're struggling to get unemployment benefits that should have kicked in months ago.
Many of the soldiers came home in December to look for work not expecting they'd run into so many problems with the state's unemployment system in the meantime.
"Every single time I call in, I've called in about 15 to 20 times a week and wait on the phone for 30 minutes up to an hour," Spc. Richard Dannenbaum said.
Dannenbaum said the problems began 12 weeks ago after he applied for unemployment benefits with the state Department of Workforce Solutions. He and a large number of his fellow Guard members have yet to be paid.
A Workforce Solutions spokesperson told KRQE News 13 it's unclear if the delay is because of a glitch in the department or with a paperwork processing center in Florida.
Dannenbaum also says there are times he's received word from Workforce Solutions that there are problems with his DD-214s, which are military records showing service dates and other information.
Another guard member told KRQE News 13 Workforce Solutions claims the glitch is preventing the processing of claims from military personnel and federal employees.
"Luckily for myself, I was able to save up enough money during deployment to kind of live off of that," Guardsman Joshua Ramos said. "But I know for a lot of these younger soldiers that did not have that opportunity and that had families they had to support while they were gone, they didn't have that savings."
"It's definitely put a big hardship on me," Dannenbaum added. "I haven't been able to pay my car payment this month.
"All the money I had saved from the deployment was spent on all the little things I should've been able to get with unemployment insurance."
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